New research by You Gov shows that one person in ten regularly accesses the Internet from a mobile device. Jumping on this trend, the broadband comparison sites are suggesting that mobile will displace fixed line as the default method of Internet access by 2010.

The research not surprisingly shows that current users of mobile as opposed to fixed are students and other “highly mobile” individuals who frankly can’t be bothered with the hassle of a fixed line connection.

As I see it there are two distinct lines to be drawn on a graph. One measures possible speeds set against a fixed, dated but, most importantly, already paid for delivery method. Clearly this line is fairly flat. The other line measures possible mobile data speed and ubiquity of service. This line on the other hand is moving fast as newer technologies, and more widespread coverage, come into play.

The interesting question is when the mobile graph overtakes the fixed graph – when there is no real reason to continue to utilise fixed lines. I’d say a two year estimate is generous – but give t a decade and it’ll be all on.

What do you think?

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Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • Vodafone have an interesting product in this area, that allows home phone line number via the mobile broadband voice network (ie. no fixed line anything) (quality seems to be fine) and a Vodem (speeds for me seem to be fine). So I have no idea why they don’t roll these together to make a killer box, but could this also be the answer to both of the lines on your graph – I can take my home phone line/number anywhere, and I can surf the net from anywhere – but don’t have to use the crappy small screens.

  • If you can assume an installed base, then the economics of wireless broadband are not as good as those for fixed (copper/optical) networks. Assuming the installed base is the thing that needs to be debated; the replacement cost of the copper infrastructure means that many countries have decided to go wireless where the population density means it is not economic to lay cables. I’d hazard a guess that most of NZ would fall into that category 🙂

    I would predict that wireless will increasingly be good enough for many users, but those requiring more reliable, consistent or high speed access will eke more out of their copper or move to optical technologies. I think this is going to start to resolve the “how much bandwidth is enough to Joe Public” question we’ve tossed around since wireless will give realworld < 100Mb/s for the foreseeable future.

    There are real world limits to the amount of data that can be transferred within a certain frequency range, which is the limit on wireless; we’re getting a lot more efficient but that limit doesn’t go away. See here for a brief tutorial on Nyquist and Shannon’s laws. This applies equally to cabled and wireless however you’ve got your own private spectrum on a cable compared with only a tiny slice for RF.

  • Falafulu Fisi |

    There are real world limits to the amount of data that can be transferred within a certain frequency range, which is the limit on wireless

    Agreed. The physics of transmission does impose limitations of wireless communication system. In optical network communication system, these limits are being pushed further & further and this is why fixed-line is still superior.

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