It's no secret that 4G wireless technology - aka Long Term Evolution and WiMax - is in the works and actually starting to see some deployment. But until then, a 3G technology called High Speed Packet Access, or HSPA, is seeing the big growth numbers around the globe.
This morning, the GSM Association, a group that represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry, predicted that the number of HSPA connections worldwide will surpass the 150 million mark by the end of the summer and reach the 200 million mark by the first quarter of next year. Dan Warren, the association's director of technology, said in a statement:
The tremendous success of HSPA demonstrates the enormous ongoing demand for truly mobile broadband access. HSPA's leading position is not just important to the mobile industry - by using a single technology for mobile broadband services globally, we avoid the fragmentation that limits its potential to improve the quality of people's lives.
That's not to say that HSPA will stifle the growth of 4G technologies being tested and slowly deployed. But does illustrate how much of a demand there is for faster-speed connections to power mobile devices - and we're not just talking phones anymore.
Previous coverage: Mobile showdown at CTIA: WiMax vs LTE, apps and more
Consumer products such as e-readers and handheld gaming devices are seeing benefits of having access to wireless broadband connections. In addition, the GSM Association points out that the automotive, energy and utility industries are starting to recognize the possibilities of embedding mobile broadband into their products.
Likewise, governments around the world are also looking to support mobile broadband services, recognizing that their economies could benefit from it. And businesses are liking the productivity benefits of having a mobile workforce that is more efficient with a mobile connection.