A fundamental shift in mobile data communications is about to begin. Mobile network operators have made headlines due to poor performance and declining user experience as millions of new devices look to connect to the Internet anytime and anywhere. The carriers simply can’t scale network capacity fast enough to meet the demand. A solution is close at hand, however, in the form of a smartphone-sized device that connects several Wi-Fi-enabled devices to a single mobile broadband subscription: the mobile hotspot router. Shipments in 2011 are expected to reach 7.1 million units with an estimated end-user revenue value of $1 billion.
Instead of tackling mobile data shortcomings by only throwing more network infrastructure capacity at the problem, network operators are increasingly looking for data signaling optimization and device aggregation techniques in the Radio Area Network (RAN), where mobile hotspot routers help alleviate these challenges. “The first products to reach the market in 2009 generally overshot the mass consumer population,” says Jeff Orr, group director, mobile devices. “Products were very complex to set up and catered to an IT-managed remote workgroup environment, such as a construction site or field emergency response team.” Advancements have been made by vendors to reduce the size and complexity of mobile hotspot routers. The solutions also address imminent carrier challenges as they expand operations to support the deluge of mobile data demands.
Network carriers want to grow the subscriber base but risk alienating users who feel that the services continue to get slower as more devices are online. “The mobile hotpot router is the only standalone device capable of being distributed to the end customer that reduces the number of subscribers while growing ARPU,” adds Orr. The mobile routers also have the advantage of not consuming mobile data at the same rate as directly-connected devices – users tend to interact with only one device at a time.
In 2016, rapid adoption of mobile hotspot routers will be rewarded with more than 60 million annual shipments and an approximate end-user revenue value exceeding $5 billion.
ABI Research’s new market study, “Mobile Hotspot Routers,” provides a market assessment and profiles of selected ecosystem participants.
It is a component of both the Cellular PC Modems and Wireless Connectivity research services.
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