In a new report, Pyramid Research and Heavy Reading predicted that the global mobile broadband market will reach 1 billion connections in 2012 as mobile operators invest billions in spectrum and network infrastructure to deploy 4G networks.
Another report, also released on Monday, from ABI Research said the use of mobile data is growing exponentially, but data revenue is lagging. The market research firm predicted that data usage in North America and Western Europe is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 55% and 42% respectively.
Pyramid said network operators are struggling to keep pace with 3G data traffic growth that is driven by smartphone and USB dongle users in addition to the increased usage of bandwidth-intensive video content and applications.
"Operators planning to deploy 4G networks face many technical, strategic and business complexities in how to manage their network evolution and critical questions on how to get a return on their investment," said Berge Ayvazian, senior consultant, Heavy Reading, and Director, 4G Consulting Practice, in a statement.
ABI said 159 megabytes of data is expected to be consumed by the average North American using mobile data by 2010.
"Mobile voice has already been surpassed by mobile data traffic on some networks and this trend will only accelerate," says ABI Research analyst Bhavya Khanna, in a statement. "This boom in usage is driven by the rapid adoption of smartphones in these markets."
Even as mobile data usage surges, revenue from its usage lags. ABI estimated that mobile data revenues are expected to grow at a CAGR of about 18%.