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 Monday, July 28, 2008

Revenues from mobile data services are set to exceed US$200 billion this year for the first time, according to data sourced from Informa Telecoms & Media. Total mobile data revenues were approximately US$157 billion in 2007.

Research from the first quarter of 2008 reveals that mobile data service revenues exceeded US$49 billion, accounting for a 42.7% y-o-y increase. This figure means that mobile operators now generate approximately one fifth of their revenue from data services; this is significant given that a general slowdown in voice revenues is forcing the pace around the importance of data services for mobile operators.

Informa Telecoms & Media estimates that non-SMS data contributed US$17.48 billion of revenue in Q108, accounting for 35.6% of total data revenues.

"Growth drivers for the increase in data revenues include the acceleration in deployment of advanced technologies, an increasingly competitive market, and of course, growing consumer demand for mobile data services driven by popular data-optimised devices such as Apple's iPhone", says Informa Principal Analyst, Nick Jotischky.

The Asia Pacific region comprises 40% of the world's data revenues (over US$20 billion in Q108), representing an above average y-o-y growth rate of 48%. The biggest regional riser, however, is the Middle East, which despite contributing just 2% of the world's data revenues in the first quarter of 2008, has seen a 91.7% y-o-y increase in this figure to US$927 million. Aiding this acceleration is the 321% y-o-y rise in the number of HSPA subscribers in the region, which reached 2.9 million by the end of March 2008.

Further next-generation deployment should also ensure rapid growth in Africa and the Americas, which accounted for just 2% and 5% of global data revenues at the end of Q1 2008. With the increased deployment of fixed wireless telephony, the popularity of EV-DO datacards continues to spread across Africa, now available in 18 markets. Similarly, in Latin America, operators are hopeful for increases in data revenues from WCDMA and HSDPA launches.

According to Informa Telecoms & Media, the operator to generate the highest non-voice revenues in the quarter is Japan's NTT DoCoMo (US$3.6 billion), having overtaken China Mobile (US$3.5 billion), which had been the largest generator of data revenues for the previous three quarters.

In terms of data as a percentage of overall revenue, Filipino mobile operator Smart Communications is the world's market leader and the only carrier to depend on non-voice revenues for more than 50% of its income, such is the high level of SMS usage in the country.

Source: Cellular News.