How Many Mobile Broadband Users Are There Out There?

An interesting, if slightly obscure, bit of mobile broadband news today comes from the Australian Bureau of Statistics which claims that 36% of the active internet subscriptions in Australia are on mobile broadband, up from 31% at the end of December.

We’re, as you might have guessed from our site title, interested in mobile broadband in the UK, not Australia but seeing it in the news (yes we do like to check obscure tech news sites, I doubt it’s been reported on breakfast telly) made us wonder again just how many mobile broadband users there are out there in the UK. We love mobile broadband and will sing its praises to everyone but 36% does sound a very high number.

There was a report from our very own Office of National Statistics back in August that of the 38 million Internet Users in the UK, 45% have used the mobile internet to access the web but as this includes usage over mobile phones we don’t think this really counts. What we’re really interested in is how many people are using mobile broadband via a dongle or built into a laptop or tablet PC to properly access on the move.

We know the UK has one of the most advanced mobile broadband markets in the world. We’re physically a relatively small country with a high population density so generally have good 3G coverage in most places, plus we have the cheapest mobile broadband deals in Europe.

The GSM Association in January predicted that the numbers of mobile broadband users throughout Europe would double to 43 million by the end of next year with the UK continuing to lead the way. With some of the recent news from Ofcom allowing increased 3G signal strength and also an investigation into the 3G speeds being offered by our networks, plus the noises coming out of the EU about reserving more of the radio spectrum for mobile broadband services things certainly look rosy for the future of mobile broadband in the UK.

So whilst we can quite confidently predict some fast growth, the secrecy of the networks about their current sales and subscriber numbers mean that we can’t get an accurate figure of how many mobile broadband users there are out there are out there right now, which is a huge shame as the number of users on a given network will affect the speed they can serve so it would be an interesting data point to have. If any of you have any interesting facts on this please post them in the comments section.