Thursday, August 7, 2008

Virgin Mobile to launch mobile broadband

In its latest set of quarterly results, Virgin Mobile has revealed it will be unveiling its own mobile broadband offering in the fourth quarter of this year.

The move comes about due to a recent renegotiation of the virtual mobile operator's agreement with its network supplier, T-Mobile, for the cost of voice and data services. As a result, the operator says it now "will also be able to price more competitively in the growing mobile data usage market".

If Virgin's mobile broadband product resembles T-Mobile's own offering, customers can expect a theoretical maximum of 7.2Mbps within the M25 area. T-Mobile also launched its HSUPA network in July, promising effective upload speeds of 1.4Mbps.

Virgin becomes the last major operator to launch a mobile broadband service, following rival O2 which made a 3G data product available to existing customers in April this year. BT Mobile, a relatively small player, may release details of their mobile broadband plans later in the summer.

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Ireland leads the way in mobile broadband revolution

Does 3G technology offer a viable alternative to fixed-line broadband?

When it comes to broadband, Ireland scarcely figures on most European league tables – with one exception. According to research by the telecoms consultancy Analysys Mason, Ireland is second only to Austria in adopting mobile broadband.

That’s no mean feat for a technology launched just last year and a country that, according to the telecoms regulator ComReg, has around 800,000 fixed-line broadband connections in total. Unlike many other European countries, 3G mobile broadband is an extremely strong competitor to fixed-line services in Ireland.

There are currently more than 230,000 mobile broadband subscribers in Ireland; 3 Mobile claims 90,000 users, Vodafone some 84,000 and O2 some 60,000. Such is the demand that one operator says customers are signing up at the rate of over 200 a day.

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2.1 billion mobile broadband customers by 2015

Source: July 30, 2008

According to a report from Analysys Mason... Globally, 2.1 billion wireless broadband customers will generate USD784 billion in service revenue by 2015. This revenue increase of about 2400% will be underpinned by continued developments in wireless technologies, improvements in devices and more flexible pricing options.

HSPA will support 88% of all wireless broadband consumers at the end of 2008, and its importance will continue. "Despite the increasing availability of LTE and WiMAX, HSPA and HSPA+ will still support 54% of wireless broadband users by the end of 2015," according to Dr Mark Heath, co-author of the report.

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Orange home broadband subscribers fall

Orange has reported a loss of 44,000 broadband subscribers in the last six months, leaving the company with just over a million ADSL customers.

The declines follows a loss of 4,000 customers during the last three months of 2007, with Orange blaming a saturated market. The company's financial statement says; "The business environment is marked by the drop in narrowband internet and portals and, more recently, by the levelling off of the ADSL broadband customer base" the company's financial report reads.

This raises speculation that the company, as with Carphone Warehouse, could also be begining to feel the effects of increased mobile broadband use, as well as the higher number of mobile phone users with access to unlimited data plans.

Comparison site Top 10 Broadband claimed earlier this year that if the trends towards mobile broadband uptake continued at its current rate, then the service could overtake home broadband as early as 2010. If prices continue to fall, data speeds continue to rise and incentives such as inclusive laptops become more commonplace then, this seemingly oulandish claim may prove accurate.

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