The overall wireless telecom market reached $215 billion in revenues and expanded to include 276 million customers in 2009 despite an economic meltdown, according to a new market overview. While the industry isn't out of the woods yet, analysts see better days ahead, keyed in part by predictions of increasing revenue from smartphone sales.
"We project the overall wireless market … to show a 3.3% increase in 2009 and then to expand at mid-to-high single-digit rates," stated the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) 2010 ICT Market Review and Forecast. While the full report on the state of ICTs (information and communications technologies) has not yet been published, TIA released its wireless market findings last week.
The size of the total wireless market is expected to increase from $215 billion in 2009 to $278 billion in 2013, according to the report. TIA defines the market as including voice and data services, wireless terminal and infrastructure equipment, and services in support of the wireless infrastructure. The 2009 figures were buoyed by an 8.8% increase in transport services revenues, which offset declines in spending on wireless devices (down 8.9%), equipment (down 13.5%) and infrastructure support services (down 8%).
The increase in the number of wireless subscribers to 276 million in 2009 -- a 5.1% increase over 2008 -- was driven in large part by declining services costs that make wireless an increasingly cost-effective alternative to landlines. But TIA notes that subscriber growth is nearing the saturation point.
Wireless penetration is expected to exceed 95% by 2013, up from almost 90% in 2009, the report said. That figure would still trail Western Europe, where wireless penetration is well over 100% in many countries, meaning that there are more wireless connections than people.