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A billion connected devices by 2016, predicts UMTS Forum
New report predicts the rise of mobile broadband-enabled Consumer Electronics devices, from digital cameras to cars


20th January 2011: A major new report from the UMTS Forum predicts the global existence of one billion Consumer Electronics (CE) devices connected to mobile broadband networks by 2016.

“Two Worlds Connected: Consumer Electronics Meets Mobile Broadband” explores relationships between the CE and cellular industries. The full report is available exclusively to members of the UMTS Forum.

The study argues that while the market for connected devices remains embryonic, CE device connectivity will outstrip overall wireless market growth in the next five years. This trend is signalled by a wave of device categories – from e-Book readers to satnav devices – that are already starting to demand access to cellular data networks.

”The collision between mobile broadband networks and connected devices – from digital cameras to personal health monitors – will see by our own estimation as many as a billion additional connections by 2016,” comments UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaimé. “As an industry association, our remit to guide and inform all players in the mobile value chain has now expanded to embrace consumer electronics.”

“The future growth of the mobile communications and CE industries are intrinsically linked”, continues Bienaimé. “Over the next few years, mobile broadband will enable the cost-effective deployment of ‘always on’ devices for the consumer. The largest area for future growth in mobile communications is in devices like gaming consoles, e-reading devices, in-vehicle entertainment, home appliances and healthcare.”

“There’s no doubt that the CE industry must ‘connect or perish’”, adds Bienaimé. “In particular, we encourage operators and CE vendors to collaborate on developing new business models – like revenue sharing – that reduce upfront investment risk while generating new sources of value.”

“It’s time for operators to look beyond connectivity and access models” concludes Bienaimé. “They must play a higher-profile role in managing the whole customer experience, from novel routes to market and technology platform management to packaged offerings that help ‘mobilise’ CE devices.”

“Two Worlds Connected” was authored for the UMTS Forum by Strategy Analytics, who completed end-user research with more than 30 in-depth interviews with players across the mobile/CE value chain. Companies polled in the study included fixed, mobile and integrated operators, plus wireless technology vendors, consumer electronics manufacturers, media companies and regulators. 

The report examines these questions:

  • What is the state of the Consumer Electronics industry, and how is it positioning relative to the mobile communications industry?
  • What is the impact of consumer electronics-focused devices on the mobile industry’s value chain?
  • What is the state of in-home connectivity today?
  • How are consumer electronics devices likely to be connected and how are the relative merits of air interface standards perceived, as well as the role of regulators?
  • What are the respective roles of cloud services and media servers vis-à-vis the consumer environment?
  • Which specialised devices, potentially intrinsic to vertical markets, will emerge for the connected consumer?
  • What are the barriers and drivers to applications ‘horizontalisation’ across devices?
  • How big is the market, by device type, by geography or by air interface standard and what are the factors that can impact this forecast?


Key findings of the report include:

  • There is no doubt that Consumer Electronics (CE) devices are becoming increasingly connected. The CE industry is in flux and must quickly “connect or perish”.
  • CE devices are not yet the main driver for mobile broadband, and this will remain for the short to medium term.
  • Mobile broadband enabled devices largely support mobile usage.
  • Wi-Fi will remain the dominant access technology in homes.
  • Cloud- and media server-based solutions will coexist.
  • Business models are very much the key barrier to mobile broadband enabled CE devices on a large scale. Operators thus need to regain their pivotal role in the ecosystem and to stimulate the development of mobile-enabled CE, rather than relying on the main impetus from CE vendors. A collaborative approach between operators and CE vendors will contribute creating a sustainable service business.
  • Other potential barriers to ubiquitous mobile broadband include market and spectrum fragmentation, chip prices, and the need for a clear value proposition for LTE to be understood by CE player


Mobile broadband is changing the way the world communicates. The UMTS Forum helps all players in this dynamic new value chain understand and profit from the opportunities of 3G/UMTS networks and their Long Term Evolution (LTE).

The UMTS Forum participates actively in the work of the ITU, EC, ETSI, 3GPP and CEPT as well as other technical and commercial organisations globally. It also contributes to the timely licensing and deployment of mobile broadband globally through regular dialogue with regulators and responses to public consultations.

The UMTS Forum supports the interests of its membership with a range of studies, reports and other outputs. Principal focus areas include markets trends, mobile broadband services and applications, key growth markets, spectrum & regulation, technology & implementation. A strong promotional voice is maintained via a high-profile presence at conferences, seminars and workshops as well as regular briefings to the media, analysts and other stakeholders.

Membership of the UMTS Forum draws together everyone with an interest in mobile broadband, including network operators, regulators and the manufacturers of network infrastructure and terminal equipment.