Worldwide annual sales of mobile broadband modems are expected to hit $22 billion within the next five years, according to estimates released this week.
The projection, made by US-based telecoms analysts ABI Research, is based on the fact that mobile broadband users prefer the convenience of a dedicated cellular modem, rather than having to plug their mobile handset into their laptop.
Laptops with built-in mobile broadband modems will also help to boost sales.
The majority of the growth in the market will happen between 2011 and 2013.
ABI’s principal analyst, Dan Shey, estimates that shipments of cellular modems will not exceed 30% of mobile handset shipments before 2011.
An important factor in the projections was to work out whether or not operators will choose to cut the price of mobile broadband when mobile handsets are used as a modem.
Currently, mobile broadband is much cheaper when a dedicated cellular modem is used.
Shey predicts that operators will be reluctant to reduce the cost of using handsets as a modem because of the lost revenue potential from calls and texts whilst the phone is connected to the internet.
Of course, it may not be long before it is possible to use your handset as a modem at the same time as making calls and sending texts.