Sales of mobile broadband dongles this year have outrun industry expectations, and left fixed broadband providers worried for their propositions.
Telecoms adviser Analysys Mason said in a report last week 47 per cent of European broadband subscriptions will be mobile by 2013, and nearly a quarter of account holders will use mobile only solutions.
It claimed fixed DSL broadband subscriber additions are drying up, and undercut by mobile propositions.
The report also said nearly half of fixed broadband users currently have a usage profile that is no higher than the average usage on mobile broadband, making the size of the addressable market for mobile broadband as a substitutive consumer proposition enormous.
But, the report also warned mobile network operators have a job on their hands to retain their momentum.
“They need to manage customer traffic volumes at a retail level, selling to the kind of customers who will not put excessive pressure on the networks,” said principal analyst Matt Hatton.
“In this respect, the networks can pull many levers, including volume-based caps, prepay charging and fixed-mobile bundles."
Rupert Wood, author of the Analysys Mason report, said: “Fixed operators are currently underestimating the scale of the threat of mobile broadband.
“Fixed operators, forced to invest heavily to differentiate their version of broadband from mobile, will pack more speed and features into their DSL services, but could end up with a product that, although it is better value for money, ultimately loses out to mobile because it is less flexible and involves substantially higher monthly costs for the end user.”
He added: “Instead of concentrating on expensive retail differentiation, fixed operators should focus more on the rapidly expanding wholesale opportunities to provide the new backhaul and platform infrastructure that mobile broadband providers urgently need. Fixed and mobile operators will need to learn to co-habit as well as to compete.”