June 18, 2008 / 5:14 AM / 11 years ago

Emerging markets seen to drive mobile broadband

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Telecom equipment maker Ericsson said on Wednesday mobile broadband Internet subscribers could rise to 2.2 billion in five years’ time from 250 million, fuelled by exponential growth in emerging markets.

Visitors look at dress-up panels for the Sony Ericsson "W53S" mobile phone at Wireless Japan 2007 in Tokyo July 18, 2007. REUTERS/Kiyoshi Ota

Torbjorn Possne, senior vice president sales and marketing, told a news conference in Singapore that the growth will be driven by markets in Asia and Latin America.

“Even now, about 50 percent outside Western Europe and U.S. are looking to use mobile broadband,” he said. “My guess is the growth will come from emerging markets.”

Possne said currently 350 million subscribers are fixed-line broadband users globally, which could also double to 700 million by 2013.

Ulf Ewaldsson, head of Ericsson’s radio division, said India is an example of fast growth for the firm.

“In India we are building one base station site every 11 minutes,” he said.

Ericsson, which is a market leader in the telecom services market with an over 10 percent share, expects to see upper single digit growth in the business this year, said Mats Agervi, head of sales and market global services, reiterating an earlier forecast.

He said demand for professional services could exceed growth coming from telecom operators, which dominate the market with annual spending of over $150 billion (76.9 billion pounds).

Jan Signell, president of Ericsson Southeast Asia said he expects broadband subscribers in his region to grow to 40 million in the next few years from 8 million now, with radio playing a key role in that growth.

Singapore Telecommunications recently chose Ericsson to upgrade its wireless broadband network and MobileOne selected the Swedish firm for microwave and optical solutions, he said.

Signell said Ericsson is also looking to seek business from Singapore’s planned ultra high-speed broadband network, though the company has not partnered anyone yet.

The network, called the Next-Generation National Broadband Network, will allow users to surf the Web at speeds of at least 1 gigabit per second — 10 times faster than those available now — when it is fully completed by 2015.

Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing By Ovais Subhani and Ben Tan

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