The number of mobile broadband connections globally has risen tenfold in the past year, lending credence to suggestions the industry is coming of age.
The GSM Association, the global trade body for mobile phone operators, is expected to announce today the 32-millionth mobile broadband connection, up from 3m at the end of March 2007.
It also found that the number of operators offering high-speed internet access through mobile networks had soared 44 per cent in the past 10 months.
The GSMA said operators in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America were all reporting an increase in the uptake of high-speed packet access handsets, which give users access to websites at speeds ranging from 1.8 -megabits a second to 7.2mbps.
It found that of 166 global commercial HSPA deployments, 100 offer speeds of 3.6mbps or above, while of the 27 countries in the European Union, 24 have commercial HSPA deployments.
Rob Conway, chief executive of the GSMA, said: "We are witnessing the creation of a virtuous circle in which mobile broadband is achieving greater economies of scale, driving down the cost of handsets and equipment and enabling more and more people to enjoy easy access to media-rich services."
The growth of mobile broadband services has set internet companies on a potential collision course with mobile and fixed-line network operators seeking to secure potentially huge new revenue opportunities.
In February, Google said it had seen 50 times more searches on Apple's iPhone than any other mobile handset, while Vodafone poached a senior Microsoft executive to head its new internet services unit.
The number of networks offering commercial mobile broadband services has risen sharply in the past year. Broadband on mobile phones is available in 73 countries from 166 operators, up from 96 networks commercially deployed in three countries.