Global spending on mobile Internet access will exceed that of fixed broadband lines in 2014, driven hugely by emerging markets.
Mobile Internet revenue will be worth US$259 billion in 2014 and by 2017 exceed US$385 billion, accounting for 58 percent of overall Internet access expenditure, according to a study by PwC released on Wednesday.
"After years of home broadband being the most popular way to access the Internet, a fundamentally different form will come to dominate: access via mobile broadband, most often via mobile phones rather than PCs and laptops," said PwC in the report.
It added penetration of mobile-Internet services will rise by 31 percentage points from 2012 to reach 54 percent by end-2017, compared with a 11 percent percentage point rise to 51 percent for fixed broadband over the same period.
PwC noted there was still plenty of growth for Internet access services globally, with just 40 percent of households subscribed to fixed broadband and less than one in four people with mobile Internet access at the end of 2012.
Overall global spend on Internet access services is forecast to have a 11 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the next five years to reach over US$665 billion in 2017.
Growth will increasingly be driven by emerging markets, noted PwC. It noted Brazil, China, India and Russia alone will account for 45 percent of fixed-broadband subscriptions and 50 percent of mobile Internet users by the end of 2017.
For Singapore, mobile access spend for 2013 will be at US$885 million accounting for over half of total Internet access spend, overtaking that of fixed broadband. A similar trend will be seen in the United States and South Korea this year, while the United Kingdom will see that in 2015.
Companies such as Google have been making efforts to tap the market of users likely to access the Internet for the first time on their mobile devices instead of PCs. Last year, it offered in selected areas in the Philippines free access for its services, such as Google Search, Gmail and Google+.
In March, Facebook partnered several telcos including those in India to allow users to access the social network's messaging service through various mobile apps on different platforms, for free or discounted data access.