Mobile broadband networks account for nearly one quarter of the world’s mobile cellular connections, according to numbers released this week by Wireless Intelligence, the research arm of the GSM Association. That winds up being 1.6 billion 3G and 4G subscriptions.
Wireless Intelligence defines mobile broadband as any CDMA EV-DO, HSPA, WiMAX or LTE technology, as well as the TD-SCDMA systems used in China – basically anything that can stream a video to a smartphone with a decent connection. In total 580 operators in 186 countries are running those networks.
The regional breakdown of where those subscribers are is particularly interesting. As you might expect, Asia leads the pack by leagues, supporting 773 million mobile broadband connections. The Americas (both continents) are second with 426 million links, while Europe boasts 358 million connections.
But Asia also has the most room for growth. While in Europe and the Americas mobile broadband connections account for 50 percent of all links, in Asia the number is at a mere 18 percent. For that reason, Wireless Intelligence is projecting Asia’s growth rate will be the fastest, increasing its 3G and 4G subscription base by 50 percent each year.