Cheaper smartphones key to broadband takeup

Michael Carroll
19 Feb 2010

Bosses at Ericsson, Huawei and China Unicom agree on one thing - cheaper smartphones are key to boosting mobile broadband usage.

Ericsson chief executive Hans Vestberg, Huawei CSO Guo Ping and China Unicom president Lu Yimin told a Mobile World Congress session that rolling out smarter handsets was the most important element in expanding the reach of fast wireless networks.

Unicom has already launched the iPhone and is committed to rolling out low-cost smartphones through 2010, Lu said. “A series of low-cost smartphones must be launched” to boost the mobile data market, he told the crowd.

Guo agreed, noting that new devices would enhance the user experience in a market that Huawei predicts will take off over the next decade. The firm forecasts data traffic to grow 75 times overall during that period.

He suggested that a price point of around $150 or below was essential to drive takeup.

Vestberg said new data pricing models would also be required, noting that current flat-rate tariffs won’t meet the needs of diverse consumers with dramatically different mobile data requirements.

The shift will be needed to satisfy the needs of 7 billion mobile broadband subscribers in 2015, according to Ericsson’s forecasts.

Vestberg described mobile broadband as the fifth stage in global development dating back 200 years to the industrial revolution, and says the technology will mean it’s not a question of “when you’re on the Net, but when you’re off the Net,” in the years ahead.

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