Competition in the mobile broadband services market is expected to intensify as the number of subscribers accessing the internet through their handsets and laptop computers steadily outpaces those using voice traffic. Telecommunications equipment vendor Nokia Siemens Network said last week mobile data traffic was doubling every year, to the extent that it would overtake voice traffic by 2011 and continue to grow exponentially until 2013. Nokia Siemens Network serves 300 mobile-telephone operators globally, giving access to 500 million mobile data subscribers, or 40 per cent of the world's mobile data traffic. The GSM Association also announced last week that global connections for mobile broadband services based on 3.5G high-speed packet access (HSPA) will pass the 150 million mark by the end of summer, making it the fastest-growing mobile technology. 'With more than 300 networks across 127 countries and approaching 1,500 HSPA-enabled devices readily available, it has established itself as the world's dominant mobile broadband technology,' said GSM Association director of technology Dan Warren. Researcher Wireless Intelligence estimated there would be 56 million HSPA connections in the Asia-Pacific by September this year; Europe, the Middle East and Africa would have 60 million, the United States 37 million and Latin America four million. Mr Warren said the industry expected one billion HSPA mobile broadband users by 2013. 'Operators around the world now enjoy economy of scale as the network equipment price for the HSPA has dropped significantly,' said Mr Warren, adding that revenue growth from the service justified the cost of ownership. Operators are pushing mobile broadband services by providing flat-rate usage plans, which allow subscribers to go online at a low monthly fee to attract casual users. Hutchison Telecom Hong Kong, the city's biggest 3G mobile operator, last week teamed up with Yahoo Hong Kong to launch a Yahoo internet key, an HSPA modem for laptop computers. Users pay HK$98 a month for 100 megabytes of mobile internet usage or HK$188 a month for unlimited access. The emergence of mobile broadband technology has prompted operators worldwide to upgrade their systems to handle all internet and voice traffic on a single network. 'While we can see that data traffic is rocketing, operator revenues are not. This means focusing on lowering the cost of data delivery,' said the head of Nokia Siemens Networks' converged core unit, Jurgen Walter. 'We have pioneered direct tunnel technology to provide an intelligent connectivity short cut for massive volumes of data that will deliver significant value to our customers.'