Mobile broadband ready to fly

Jacquie Hay, CEO Ericsson Australia, shares her thoughts about the future of networking and the importance of mobile broadband.

The global financial crisis is undoubtedly the focus of everyone’s attention and its impact will be felt in all sectors of the economy. Although the effect on the telecommunications industry remains uncertain, in many ways this industry is better positioned than others to cope with the downturn. Ericsson’s Jacquie Hey explains why.

Several fundamental trends are helping to steer the telco industry through these uncertain times. One of the key developments has been the amazing growth of mobile broadband, which is transforming the way we communicate. Another major trend will be the urgent demand for more backhaul as the demand for data continues to multiply.

2008 was the tipping point for mobile broadband as it grew from a niche to a mass market offering, both globally and here in Australia. Currently, there are over 84 million HSPA subscribers in 110 countries (source: GSMA), up from 50 million subscribers in August 2008.

We see three groups of devices that will drive mobile broadband to the mass market. Laptop computers will remain influential as notebook vendors provide increased bundled offerings for mobile broadband.

Secondly, embedded broadband modules will become the norm, with built-in mobile broadband being secure and simple to use. Major laptop manufacturers predict that 50% of laptops shipped in 2011 will have mobile broadband built in, ‘out of the box’.

A third group of devices is in its early stages, but will make inroads this year and will be available in volume in 2010. These include mobile internet devices (MIDs), navigation, gaming, cameras and car entertainment products.

This trend is creating a new mobile broadband ecosystem including networks and chipsets for handsets, laptops, netbooks, mobile internet devices and beyond. Today, enterprises and consumers expect devices to be ‘always connected’, enhancing business productivity and enabling rich multimedia communication services.

The uptake of mobile broadband will be boosted by future performance increases in telco networks using HSPA technology. Evolved HSPA, or HSPA+, will deliver peak downlink speeds of up to 21 Mbps and will shortly be introduced in Australia. By the end of 2009, eHSPA will enable peak rates of up to 42 Mbps, providing even higher speed mobile broadband access and greater capacity for operators.

You’ll also hear much more about long-term evolution, or LTE, during the year ahead. This is the next step in mobile network evolution and will deliver peak downlink speeds of more than 150 Mbps initially, and increasing to 300 Mbps in future. LTE will become commercially available in the second half of 2009 and will be introduced globally by major telcos such as Verizon, AT&T, DoCoMo and China Mobile.

The amazing growth of broadband - both mobile and wireline - will deliver enormous benefits to business and society. However, there are serious implications for the telco industry in terms of the urgent demand for more backhaul capacity, which is the transmission from the access node to the core network.

When Australia’s National Broadband Network is introduced, for example, the downlink speeds of 12 Mbps and more will require backhaul capacity that is 100 times greater than that available today. This is due to the combination of much faster access speeds and applications such as video that are more demanding than simple internet browsing, requiring significant infrastructure and backhaul investment by carriers and service providers.

Australian by birth, Jacqueline (‘Jacquie’) Hey joined Ericsson in Australia in 1987 where she worked for 16 years in all aspects of Ericsson’s cellular and wireline business.
During this time, Jacquie held a variety of local and global roles with responsibility for Telstra, Vodafone Pacific and other general management roles. Jacquie has Graduate and Postgraduate qualifications from the University of Melbourne and Southern Cross University in Economics and Marketing.
In 2004, Jacquie was appointed Managing Director of Ericsson UK Limited, responsible for all of Ericsson’s operations in UK and Ireland. She was also Head of Global Customer Unit Vodafone, Chairperson of Ericsson Ireland and Board Director of Ericsson UK.
Jacquie commenced her role as CEO Ericsson Australia and New Zealand in November 2008.

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