08 March 2009

Mobile operators discover the dangers of being reduced to a dumb pipe

Even industry veterans have been surprised by the rapid take-up of mobile broadband - using built-in receivers or plug-in "dongles" to provide internet access to laptops via high-speed mobile networks. The advantage of this is that it works anywhere - unlike short-range Wi-Fi technology, it is not limited to a few hotspots. In Western Europe alone, the number of mobile-broadband users will grow by 50% to 27m this year. Worldwide, there are thought to be around 100m. The growth, however, comes with a couple of big drawbacks for the operators. One is loss of control. Subscribers can do what they want: the operator is merely a "dumb pipe" to the internet. Next, rates have been falling quickly. see also Boom in the bust.