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Mobile broadband takes centre stage at MWC

Vendors set to showcase latest LTE capabilities at Mobile World Congress.

LTE and tablets will feature prominently at this year's Mobile World Congress.
LTE and tablets will feature prominently at this year's Mobile World Congress.

LTE and mobile broadband applications look set to top the agenda at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The four-day event for the mobile telecommunications industry, which starts today, is expected to attract some 50,000 attendees and will feature keynote speakers including Vittorio Calao, CEO, Vodafone; Hans Vestberg, president and CEO, Ericsson; and Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.

While topics including mobile money, mobile health and mobile advertising are high on the conference agenda, vendors and operators are widely expected to showcase their mobile broadband capabilities, particularly LTE, while manufacturers including HP and Samsung will be focusing on their latest tablet devices.

And the rapid expansion of high speed mobile broadband networks were reinforced by figures from MWC's organiser, the GSMA, which announced that global HSPA mobile broadband connections had surpassed 400 million, according to figures from research firm, Wireless Intelligence.

There are now more than 17 million HSPA connections being added each month around the world, compared to nearly 9 million a month in the same period last year, according to the GSMA.

LTE is also set to experience rapid growth over the next few years. There are expected to be some 300 million LTE connections in 55 countries by 2015, a rise from 4.2 million connections in 24 countries by the end of 2011, the GMSA said.

"Over the past 12 months operators around the world have invested more than $70 billion* in Mobile Broadband infrastructure and network upgrades, driving strong momentum for HSPA and paving the way for LTE to gain real traction," said Michael O'Hara, chief marketing officer at the GSMA.

"HSPA has achieved great success since it was first deployed in 2005, and to date is the fastest-growing wireless technology ever. 2011 is also set to be the tipping point for LTE, with network deployments in 24 countries and the commercial availability of the first LTE-based smartphones and tablets driving more than four million connections."