#5: Biggest Stories of 2006: Mobile Revenue passes Wireline

According to Philip Redman, research vice president at Gartner, service revenues from wireless services will exceed those from fixed lines by the end of this year. Gartner estimates that 3 billion of the world’s 6.5 billion people will be mobilites by 2010. What makes this truly amazing is that less than 10% of the world’s population has ever made a telephone call, and now, within just a few years, nearly half will be mobile users.

The ITU Internet Report titled digital.life observes that “the number of mobile phones users worldwide passed the 2 billion mark in late 2005. While it took around 21 years to reach the first billion users, the second billion signed up in just the three years. By contrast, it took some 125 years to reach the first billion fixed lines users.”

3G usage is also surging. By the end of 2005, there were about 60 million 3G users worldwide. That number passed 100 million in June of this year and Strategy Analytics estimates it will reach 167 million by the end of this year. They further predict that more than half of mobilites will be on 3G by 2010.

All of these facts and projections are clear indications of the trajectory of the mobility revolution.

Many of us still think of mobility as merely telecom taken with us as we go. That might be a telephone that stays with us, or it might be a broadband connection that is available all the time, wherever we are. In effect, we are thinking of mobility as an incremental extension of the telecom industry.

These facts blow that notion out of the water.

More people are using mobile phones than phones. Soon, more devices will be on broadband wireless than fixed broadband connections, and those devices will be available and used more frequently to do more things than traditional PCs. This alone will transform the way that people interact with the world, and naturally, the best information sources will change the way they work to match their audience.

The most powerful differentiator for mobility over fixed communications is the availability of context. The collection of contextual information available in the mobile era will continue to expand making the relevance of my communications experience to where I am, who I’m with, what I’m doing, where I’m going, what time it is, how traffic is, what the weather is, what my heart rate is, who I just met with, who I’m about to meet with, etc. dramatically richer and more valuable.

As mobile telecom continues to grow and dwarf fixed telecom, expect everything to change.

This is not just “big news” but also “real news.” 2006: the year fixed telephony tipped towards irrelevancy?

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