Broadband News

Will mobile broadband over take fixed line services in two years?

PC Pro has a report suggesting that the various 3G and other variants of mobile broadband could supplant fixed line broadband services such as ADSL and cable by 2010.

3G data cards have been around for some time, but the usage allowance was usually measured in 10's of Mega Bytes but the last year has seen products appearing at just £10 per month with 1000MB (1GB) of usage included. The result of this is that sales are booming, but it is too early to predict whether this is latent demand for a service that small businesses and pro-consumers want, i.e. to be online no matter where they are.

The mobile data cards, while offering much better value than previously, are still pretty light in terms of allowances- 7GB could set you back £25. The same amount of money on a fixed line service would get a lot more data. One real danger that perhaps only those in the most crowded parts of the country may be seeing is the level of contention present on the wireless networks. A big unanswered question is whether the mobile networks will expand capacity as more people sign-up to keep current performance levels. In the fixed line broadband arena we see some providers waiting until a network reaches breaking point before upgrading and others upgrading before capacity issues rear their head.

Many of the unlimited mobile packages do have fair use policies which have limits. The mobile market pioneered the use of unlimited in advertising with clauses that could see them charging you for excess usage or changing your product.

So what of the future of broadband? Is it to be the sci-fi vision of every device being connected wirelessly to the Internet? Well it seems to be heading that way, though it is likely fixed-line will survive in the home and business place as the advances in fixed line speeds are currently out-pacing that of wireless. We may see millions of mobile data cards sold in the next two years, but in all probability the bulk of usage will remain with fixed line providers.


Will mobile broadband over take fixed line services in two years?

I doubt it, unless the big ISPs are given the opportunity to wholesale[1] the 3g networks, where it could become a useful way of avoiding the BT wholesale network outside of their LLU exchanges.

Rumour has it 3 will be allocating proper IP address to their Broadband customers some time later this year. It's not such a big step to move from that to a proper wholesale model.

[1] ..and I mean a proper wholesale model, none of this charge a fortune for a 2mb private interconnect rubbish! :)

  • martinsaunders
  • over 13 years ago

Splendid idea if you can get a reliable signal. Speeds via BT landline around here (countryside small non LLU exchange)are at best 1.6 MBPS so anything that can provide a decent speed would be welcome.

  • BBpeter25
  • over 13 years ago

The unanswered question remains the contention ratio in other words how much capacity per base station exists. The first user might get over 1Mbits/s download, but how many can expect to use a 3G connection for their "normal" broadband needs before the infrastructure falls apart ?

  • herdwick
  • over 13 years ago

If its not mobile broadband that takes of, lets hope something else new appears, the broadband situation in this country is shocking. As for ...
quote"Speeds via BT landline around here (countryside small non LLU exchange)are at best 1.6 MBPS"

WOW i wont comment except i assume thats a mistype ;)

  • over 13 years ago

3G....what 3G

Mobile brosdband wont over-take landline broadband as 3G still hasn't reached a lot of areas in the UK inlcuding the area I live in simple beacuse the mobile networks wont invest and spend money out of larger towns and cities.

  • mitchja
  • over 13 years ago

For a lot of people in towns and cities I recon this will be attractive, not just for the day to day mobility, but for those in rented accommodation to put an end to the fixed line grief that comes with moving house. I'd sign up like a shot if the speed/reliability/price all fell into place.

I'm pretty sure herdwick's right though, and the contention will very, very rapidly become an issue. I've been at modestly sized events where it's impossible to get a mobile connection due to everyone using the phone - broadband is bound to be worse.

  • carrot63
  • over 13 years ago

There is already at least one set of licences for wireless broadband in this country.

The company (initially PCCW) has so many changes of name and service name since 2004 that I've lost track of this month's name [1].

They've seemingly not managed to attract enough punters to make it worthwhile rolling out their network much beyond selected Thames Valley areas, why would the picture be any different for the mobile operators? I suppose "bundling" aka "lock-in" might be one answer but it's rarely a *good* answer from the punter's point of view.

[1] the website is still

  • c_j_
  • over 13 years ago

Mobile broadband? Don't make me laugh - here in east Suffolk (like the Isle of Wight and many other parts of UK) there is no ordinary mobile service from any network. To get a even a poor signal on Vodafone I have to walk up my garden. As for landline - decrepit overhead that whistles and clicks like a cat's whisker wireless. Dial-up speed as low as 20 kbps so things time-out as I wait for the monkey to finish his banana. Forget landline broadband - BT line check was donkey speed, and that's 5 miles from BT Martlesham and 2 miles from our exchange.

  • Suffolk
  • over 13 years ago

I have recently taken on Three Mobile's Mobile Broadband Offer 7Gb Option, as I currently in between selling houses and on the move with work. I have been using the service since December and the service has been good to poor.

  • xathras
  • over 13 years ago

xathras: I think you'll have a similar experience on all the other networks. In my experience coverage is king so unless you sit under a cell, you can't guarantee a good experience.

Saying that, I'm posting this on the way home (Central London to Surrey) on the train, with mp3 music streaming from my home network, and apart from a few drops outs it's working fine.

  • martinsaunders
  • over 13 years ago

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