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Nearly 44 Million HSPA Connections in APEJ by Year-End

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High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) technology, in both handsets and dongle form factors, has experienced strong growth in Asia Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ) in the past 18 months, with IDC forecasting 43.6 million HSPA connections in the region at the end of 2009.

According to Bill Rojas, Research Director for IDC's Asia/Pacific Telecommunications Research, "The success of HSPA and the continuous demand for more bandwidth is accelerating the need for Long Term Evolution (LTE) deployments in most of the HSPA deployed markets in APEJ. The experience with HSPA dongles has been nothing less than phenomenal but it has come at the price of explosive consumption in bandwidth, forcing HSPA operators to either offload as much traffic as possible through WiFi access points, halt the number of new HSPA dongle customers or capping the maximum downloadable GBytes per month per user."

LTE is being promoted by the industry as the all-IP migration path for UMTS and EV-DO operators to prepare them for IMT-2000 Advanced or 4G. IDC expects a select group of 3G operators, possibly DoCoMo, KDDI, eMobile, Hong Kong CSL, PCCW/HGC's joint venture, Telecom New Zealand and China Mobile Hong Kong to pioneer investment in LTE. "The current propaganda of LTE infrastructure is being concentrated on developed APEJ markets, where converged handsets with HSPA and WiFi are becoming the new dominant end-user mobile device, but this attention is not addressing another huge opportunity in APEJ, which is the pent-up demand of under-served broadband households," Bill adds.

IDC estimates that in markets like the Philippines, the realistic addressable market could be as high or even higher than one-third of all households. By the end of 2009, IDC forecasts that India's broadband household penetration will be less than 1.6%, while its mobile penetration will reach 38% or 439 million subscribers. "IDC also foresees that most, if not all, APEJ markets will need to move to an all-IP 4G infrastructure, but uncertainty still lingers on what are the best paths for GSM operators that do not have 3G spectrum today. Do these 2G operators skip 3G altogether and focus on building the scalable fiber backhaul for 4G LTE or IMT-2000 Advanced, adopting IMS technology, and upgrading the OSS/BSS systems to prepare for the proliferation of streaming video and audio content?" says Bill.

IDC believes there will be a complementary role for both WiMAX and LTE in APEJ. Each technology can address a different segment of the market on different spectrum bands, which when combined will lead to an exciting future. For example, India's broadband household penetration could exceed 20%, making India along with China the largest markets for residential broadband in the world. China has an advantage in that it has invested heavily in Carrier Ethernet technology to deploy substantial numbers of xDSL lines in use.

"LTE and other OFDM systems such as 802.16m have a very important role to play across all parts of APEJ, and all eyes will be on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) technology choices for IMT-2000 Advanced. It is early to predict what the ITU will decide but one thing remains fairly certain and that is that OFDMA systems such as LTE will be the workhorse of mobile broadband in the next decade," Bill concludes.

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Tags: high speed packet access  hspa  lte  bandwidth  4g  broadband  ev-do  union  wifi  802.16m  video  ofdma  imt-2000  2g