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Friday, January 18, 2008

Mobile vs fixed Internet users - a first pass estimation

Following on from my post yesterday about the real truth about fixed/mobile Internet access, I thought I'd have a very quick attempt at quantifying the actual state of things. I've done a back-of-an-envelope estimation, segmenting the estimated 1.3bn Internet users. I've tried to break things down by both device type (PC, mobile phone, various mixes) and access mechanism (cellular, fixed connection, WiFi, various mixes).

NOTE - updated post & estimates now at 2nd post here

Now clearly there's a lot of guesswork here. And yes, I've missed out some oddities like TV or games-console access, and fixed-wireless services like pre-WiMAX or satellite modems.

As I said, this is a first attempt. To be honest, the main objective here was more about coming up with the general design of the matrix & the enumeration of two suitable axes & categories. I've basically filled in number to add up to 1300 without detailed background data, but in such a way that there aren't too many alarm bells ringing.

The units are (million individual users) Any input or feedback welcome.... [apologies for the legibility. I'm sure there's a better way to upload the table....]

EDIT - one possible issue is around the 1.3bn users. If you include people who use WAP browsers on handsets to access operator walled garden portals (eg to select games/ringtones to download) then there may be more in total. In my view, it's not the 'real' Internet unless you go via the portal to a website like Google, either by typing in a URL or by the portal using an external web services API or similar. [by the same token, if you use a browser to look at HTML on your own PC, or as an interface to a corporate Intranet, that ain't 'real Internet' use either]

NOTE - updated post & estimates now at 2nd post here


Russ McGuire said...

Great first shot Dean. Depending on your definition of "mobile" (haven't we had this discussion before?) it seems your WiFi only and WiFi+Fixed numbers are surprisingly low and your Fixed+Cellular numbers are surprisingly high. Unfortunately for operators, so far, it seems that a lot more folks will take their laptops around without any cellular data connectivity and reconnect whenever they can via WiFi or Ethernet than are walking around with cellular data plans and cards/dongles. I hope I'm wrong and you're right, but...

Dean Bubley said...



Yes, I agree. Will modify in a second iteration.

Thinking about it, I can't imagine that many people would ever use a 3G-enabled laptop, without at some point also using WiFi, even if it's just when outside 3G coverage.

Slight variable here for the (handful) of people who have fixed-3G modems/routers at home, which doesn't quite fit into the category as the "last yard" would be via WiFi or ethernet.

And in future, there's also the opposite approach, with femtocells, where the "access" is fixed, but the "last yard" is cellular.

And I guess if you really want to be picky, you could argue that with UMA or I-WLAN, although the access is via WiFi/broadband, you're using a mobile core network to control sessions.....