Mobile Internet Has Been a Success in the Competition among Internet Access Technologies

01. 09. 2009.

The number of internet subscriptions in Hungary exceeded 2.4 million at the end of the first half of 2004, propelled largely by the growth in mobile internet services over the past year. At year-end 2008 a higher percentage of the population used mobile internet services in Hungary than in Norway or China, the September 2009 Report on the Internet Economy by GKIeNET – T-Home – T-Mobile reveals.

At the end of the first half of 2009, 3.4 million Hungarians in the 17 to 74 age bracket were internet users, defined as spending a minimum of one hour per month in any form on the world wide web or using e-mail services. The study conducted by GKIeNET – T-Home – T-Mobile points out that more than half of the internet users (55%) have belonged in this category for at least four years, while one-third has been using the internet for two to three years, and one-tenth started using the web during the past twelve months. In terms of the frequency of internet use, more than half (58%) of the adult population in the internet user category goes online on a daily basis.

At the end of the first half of 2009 the number of internet subscriptions exceeded 2.4 million, propelled largely by mobile internet growth.

Based on the records, over a two-year time span the number of internet subscriptions in the household segment equals the number of households that had computer access two years earlier. The dropping prices of computers, particularly of notebook computers, indirectly generates a growth in the number of internet subscriptions in the household segment. A comparison to the emergence and expansion of broadband internet services, however, is only partially legitimate, given that mobile technology allows internet connection to individuals, while landline access provides internet connectivity to an entire household.

Internet connection via SIM card is currently the most rapidly growing type of internet access in both the developed and developing countries of the world. Japan has the highest percentage of mobile internet users per population, which is not surprising: This is where wireless internet access was made available for the first time ten years ago, in 1999. The United Kingdom is the European leader in this mode of internet access. In Hungary the rate of mobile internet users at year-end 2008 was also higher than in Norway or China.

In March 2009 eMarketer surveyed the trends in mobile phone use in the age group between 8 and 24 years in the Asia-Pacific region. SMS continues to be the most popular type of service among young people, but the use of the camera and music functions on mobile phones is almost equally prevalent. E-mail access via mobile phones is particularly predominant in Japan (72%).

Mobile internet service is accessible via three channels. First, browsing is possible on a mobile phone screen. Second, mobile internet can be accessed in a traditional way, through a computer screen. The latter method can be divided into two distinct categories, depending on whether the computer is connected to the mobile network via a mobile data card/USB modem, or whether a mobile phone serves as a modem. In Hungary the majority of mobile internet users (79%) log on via a mobile data card. Mobile phones serving as modems are a less widespread option (21%), while 14% of mobile internet users browse the world wide web on their mobile devices. 86% of the subscribers currently use one type of access, while the most prevalent combination (6%) involves computer connection via mobile data card plus browsing through a mobile phone screen. Internet browsing via a mobile phone screen tends to be popular among highly educated male users, and it is generally accompanied by a different type of internet access at home (20%).

Originally the widespread use of the world wide web could be attributed to work-related purposes, but these days private use has become more dominant. Mobile internet use will likely develop along the same path, over a significantly shorter period of time, though. In Hungary a little under half of all mobile internet subscribers (45%) use the internet solely for personal purposes, while 69% log on more for personal use than for business purposes. 16% say they use the internet for personal and business purposes at equal rates.