Top five trends for the mobile industry in 2011

Mobile internet speeds as fast as WiFi with LTE technology, mobile video calling, increased mobile broadband availability in locations around the globe and mobile data caps that restrict excessive data usage are expected to become the norm in 2011.

Swedish management consulting firm Northstream predicts the emergence of LTE technology is set to have the biggest impact on the global mobile industry in 2011.

LTE or "3GPP Long Term Evolution" is a new standard of mobile network technology that has been designed to enhance the capacity and speed of telephone networks. For consumers it means faster mobile downloads, the ability to share videos and large files wirelessly plus much faster streaming of videos and true Mobile TV.  

"LTE momentum is moving in to a period of sustained high pressure. There have been nine commercial LTE deployments this year and a further 44 additional launches are anticipated for 2011," reports Northstream in a November 26 release.

A wider proliferation of faster data networks plus an increase in feature-rich smartphones with forward-facing cameras will drive mobile video calling into the mainstream during 2011.

"Despite just 1% of existing 3G calls being video enabled, Skype claims that its share of video calls stands at 40% of total customer interactions. This proves that an attractive market for video calling potentially exists," says Northstream.

Mobile devices running on the iOS and Android platforms will remain at the forefront of converged devices in 2011 says Northstream, acting as the "Swiss army knives" of the mobile industry by providing consumers with additional services that were previously unavailable to mobile device users.

In 2011 mobile broadband will become available to more users than ever before, reaching beyond 10 billion connections globally by 2015.

To combat poor service quality on their heavily used networks and to increase revenues, cellular operators will put tighter caps on their data bundles, limiting the use of high bandwidth services and serving up tiered pricing for some services.

"In Australia and South Africa, operators have introduced data caps, time based billing, walled garden networks and favour some content partners according due to their high transatlantic data charges," says Northstream, adding that European operators may soon follow suit.

Northstream's five predictions for 2011 are:

1.       LTE

2.       Mobile video calling

3.       iOS and Android platforms

4.       Strong growth in mobile connections

5.       Increases in discriminatory data usage policies

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