Latest IDC figures have tipped wireless broadband use to grow five times faster than the total broadband market, exploding from 25,000 users to 287,000 users by 2008.
Warren Chaisatien, senior mobile and wireless analyst at IDC Australia, said wireless broadband would eventually disrupt and dominate the market, forcing more established players to rejig their portfolios, positioning and pricing.
Wireless broadband had a “unique ability” to fill in the speed and coverage hole left by other wireless technologies, such as cellular and WLAN, he said.
“The real disruption will come when voice becomes an integrated part of wireless broadband technology and all proprietary wireless broadband solutions become standards-compliant -- moves that can be expected in the next two years,” Chaisatien said.
He said Australia's low broadband penetration and difficulty in obtaining quality wireline broadband connections in remote and underserved areas would continue to make wireless broadband an ideal alternative.
The market has gained “extraordinary” momentum in the last six months, thanks to a concerted push by service providers such as BigAir, Unwired and Personal Broadband Australia in Sydney and Pacific Wireless and Access Providers in Melbourne, Chaisatien said.
Chaisatien had just completed a wireless broadband market study updating Australian figures for the fourth quarter. The study had also found that fixed wireless and mobile broadband sub-segments were converging.
Wireless broadband service providers were starting to offer both stationary and mobility products. Future competition would also come from "outsiders”, such as 3G cellular and business-grade DSL carriers, he said.
Australian businesses, particularly SMBs, were receptive to wireless broadband and wireless broadband-based VoIP, he added.
However, proper intervention was needed for an upcoming auction of wireless broadband spectrum. Smaller operators, prospective startups and users from more remote areas might easily become disadvantaged, Chaisatien said.
The IDC study profiled “major” wireless broadband service providers and included an updated five-year forecast of the Australian wireless broadband market.