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US dumps fixed line, turns to wireless

Despite a stuttering start to its sorely under-par national wireless solutions, the US is gradually figuring out how useful the 'cell phone' can be. Yankee Group this week has predicted that the nation is abandoning fixed line phones in droves, turning instead, to mobiles.

Despite a stuttering start to its sorely under-par national wireless solutions, the US is gradually figuring out how useful the 'cell phone' can be. Yankee Group this week has predicted that the nation is abandoning fixed line phones in droves, turning instead, to mobiles.

The uptake of mobile phones in the US has been blighted by a multitude of problems, lack of network cohesion, lack of affordable devices, lack of interest, for years. It very much fell behind Europe and Asia in terms of the wireless revolution focussing instead on plain old computers, which was arguably very wise. The last couple of years has seen this uptake curve bend dramatically in favour of the pocket sized devices.

Bend is perhaps a slight understatement. Yankee Group predicts that uptake of mobile subscription services will rise by 50%, to 200 million, over the next four years. That's great news for the mobile network operators but positively galling for the land line purveyors. It's said that the former will come to dominate the personal phone call landscape by 2006. Once that's happened the US mobile marketplace will be worth a wallet fattening $110 billion.

This is already happening. Yankee estimates that as much as 30% of personal phone call minutes in the US are now running across mobile phone networks; by 2006 that will have topped 50%. Already, in fact, 3% of the US population have completely severed their ties with the fixed land line, preferring instead the flexibility and convenience of the mobile handset.

This take up is being strongly reflected across the business landscape in the US too. By 2003, Yankee reckon, 50% of large US enterprises will be implementing a mobile or wireless solution across their business. This is just the start of what promises to be an almost absolute eradication of the fixed line phone business for personal, and increasingly, business calls.

But it's not just the voice business that the wireless operators of the US are set to benefit from, data is rapidly becoming big business over the water. Media Metrix recently discovered that as many as 10 million people in the US are currently using their mobile phones and PDA's to access the Internet. Better still, if you're that way inclined, it reckoned that as much as 11% of the global online community venture into cyberspace through their mobile devices.

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