Mobile data soars in US, world's largest market

Robert Clark
23 Sep 2009

The US is the biggest market and NTT DoCoMo is the top-ranking carrier in global wireless data business, says a new analysis.

While mobile data revenue worldwide rose 21% in the first half, US carriers led the way with a scorching 39% increase in sales since the end of 2008, says research firm Chetan Sharma Consulting.

US operators notched up $20.6 billion in revenue in the first half, followed by Japan with $16 billion and China $8.5 billion.

NTT DoCoMo accounted for half of all wireless data sales to make it the world’s biggest – data accounts for nearly 45% of its revenue.

But it actually shrank 2% compared with the second half of 2008, and Chetan Sharma expects it will be eclipsed “within the next few quarters” by Verizon Wireless, the world’s fastest-growing mobile data provider, which has just passed China Mobile to take the second spot.

The top 10 operator groups now account for over 63% of the global mobile data revenues. Each of the top five operators is expected to top $10 billion in annual data revenues this year, the report forecasts.

Yet despite the soaring mobile internet takeup, data ARPU “is not completely offsetting the drop in voice ARPU for most operators,” the study noted.

But it expects global mobile data traffic to exceed an exabyte for the first time in 2009. Next year it predicts the number of mobile broadband connections will overtake the number of fixed broadband lines.

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