A new research report from Yankee Group points out interesting distinctions in broadband connectivity across different regions of the world. For example, in most places wireless broadband access has outpaced wired; the only exception being Latin America where operators have just started rolling out 3G services.
As someone living in the US, this surprises me. Other than techies and road warriors, I don’t see many people using mobile broadband. On the other hand, virtually everyone I know has broadband access at home. As Yankee suggests, the reason behind the North America statistic may be that many North Americans have 3G phones, but don’t use the broadband data features. This behavior means we’re likely further behind our Western European counterparts than the numbers suggest. The Yankee report puts North American wireless connectivity at 31% compared 42% penetration in Western Europe.
The big question is how much and how quickly 4G broadband rollouts will change the geographic picture. Will WiMAX happen fast enough here to build a diverse mobile broadband ecosystem – a range of devices and services – in the next 12 to 24 months? Will US LTE deployments be delayed by spectrum issues like a potential delay of the DTV transition? Increasingly people are becoming aware of why 4G services are important, not just as a speed increase, but as a technology that sets up the expectation of being connected to information anywhere at any time. Across the globe, we’re at an inflection point for mobile broadband. This is where the wireless broadband race gets interesting.