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Cellular Data Set To Surge, Study Says

Wireless operators are about to start reaping the benefits of their large investments in 3G cellular data networks, according to a study released Wednesday by market research firm Informa.

Specifically, the contribution from cellular data services to the bottom lines of wireless operators will increase worldwide from 12 percent this year to 18 percent in 2010, according to the study. However, that increase will only somewhat offset declining revenues from voice service offered by wireless operators, according to the study. Voice revenues have been decreasing in recent years because of strong competition, the study noted.

The increase in data services will come both from enterprises usage and from consumers, the study said. In particular, mobile gaming will be big, according to the report author.

"We're going to be seeing significant ... uptake in wireless enterprise services, as well as strong results from the entertainment segment," Daniel Winterbottom, co-author of the report, said in a statement. "We expect that the number of mobile video users will see more than a five-fold increase over the forecast period but the most dynamic level of growth will come from gaming, with more than 458 million users expected worldwide by 2010."

Other indicators are that mobile data services as offered by wireless operators have been adopted slowly by users. In January, Verizon Wireless reported that it had 75,000 users for its 3G 1xEV-DO services. Verizon said those numbers exceeded its expectations, although Wall Street analysts said uptake of the service was quite low.

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