Sunday, March 01, 2009

Mobile broadband is threatening Israeli ISPs

An ancient question is gaining relevance: will mobile broadband be able to replace fixed line broadband?

At first glance, the answer could be no. The bandwidth difference between fixed and mobile networks remains large. In fixed networks, 1 Gb/s is a reality now in Hong Kong and Lattelecom is working toward half of that by the end of the year. In mobile, Telstra is leading the pack with 21 Mb/s and upgrading to 42 Mb/s later this year. That's still a large difference and it doesn't look like it will be getting any smaller soon, in a relative sense (Lattelecom already talks about 10 Gb/s, and LTE is some years off).
However, without a video component, mobile broadband looks more and more like a fixed line replacement. HSDPA USB modems have come to the market and gateways are avaliable for connecting up to 4 PCs to the mobile network. The addressable market could be limited (probably business travelers) as broadband is becomig pretty universal and heavy video consumption or P2P file-sharing is not going away (so, giving up on your fixed BB connection doesn't seem realistic). Also, mobile broadband carries much higher opex than fixed broadband, I would suppose.

Now, in Israel operators are asking the government to prevent mobile operators from providing internet services. According to this article, Partner and Cellcom are trying to sell mobile broadband services through a gateway. The operators crying foul are asking for 'structural separation' (I think horizontal separation would be a better term) of mobile operators and ISPs. Interesting development, underpinning the view that mobile broadband is indeed becoming a fixed line replacement.


Stefano Quintarelli said...

remember this ?
ciao, s.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Telstra is leading Australia when it comes to mobile broadband, but it leads the WORLD when it comes to screwing its customers. They charge you an arm and a leg and give you a monthly quota that is nothing but a joke. Oh, and they lock you into a 3 year contract to boot.