Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why Streamyx must buck up

A reason for Streamyx to offer better speeds and prices when wireless technology is still lagging.

Mobile broadband whacking fixed-line access

GENEVA: More people are using cellphones and other portable devices for high-speed Internet access than are signing up for fixed-line subscriptions to the Web, according to just-published United Nations figures.

Mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide are expected to reach 600 million, leapfrogging the estimated 500 million fixed-line subscriptions by the end of this year, the International Telecommunication Union said.

“There was a 50% increase in mobile broadband subscriptions just over the past year,” said Susan Teltscher of ITU’s statistical bureau.

The agency expects growth to continue at this rate for several years, she said.

Most mobile broadband connections are still considerably slower than fixed-line alternatives, and offer a more limited range of services at a higher price. Experts say that competitive advantage could soon tilt in mobile’s favour, too.

Industry representatives at ITU’s Telecom World tradeshow in Geneva last week are touting two next-generation technologies as potential nails in the coffin for fixed-line broadband.

The first is LTE, or long-term evolution, which cellphone companies are considering as the replacement for 3G some years down the line.

In the other corner is WiMAX, a standard being pushed by the computer industry that works like WiFi but over much greater distances.

Russia-based company Yota has unveiled a dual-use phone that runs on both WiMAX and standard cellphone networks. Users can browse the Web at ultra-high speeds in those Russian cities already covered by Yota, or connect at slower cellphone speeds elsewhere, chief executive Denis Sverdlov said.

The biggest winners from the emergence of mobile broadband are likely to be poor countries. Fixed-line phones are still scarce in the developing world, forcing those who want high-speed data services to resort to mobile technology.

Voice-only mobile subscriptions already outstrip the number of regular phone connections in most poor countries: Almost 7 in 10 people around the world now have a cellphone subscription of some kind, the ITU report found.

Meanwhile, fixed-line telephone subscriptions continue to decline and are expected to drop to about 1.1 billion — less than one for every five people on the planet — this year, the report said. — AP

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