There could be 94 million people using VoIP hardware over mobile broadband connections across Europe by 2017, according to new research.

Figures from the Coda Research Consultancy suggest the uptake of mobile broadband will continue to expand significantly.

This could potentially change business practices as more people have the option of working from home rather than heading into the office.

Global mobile broadband connectivity is forecast to reach 418 million over the same timeframe as the flexibility of the technology appeals to more people.

The researchers predict that portable laptop and netbook users accessing the internet via mobile broadband will produce USD $48bn in operator revenues in 2017 and will generate and consume an immense 1.8 exabytes of traffic per month – a forty fold increase over 2009.

Steve Smith, founder of Coda Research, said: "With enormous growth in traffic and considerable decline in average revenue per user, operators will need to be ruthlessly efficient."

The most significant growth will occur in the Asia-Pacific region, where users will amount to 162m by 2017. Europe will account for 94m users, and North America for 58m users.

The Coda report says the impact of Long Term Evolution (LTE) will be dramatic, with half of all mobile broadband via netbook and laptop users employing LTE worldwide in 2017.

Three quarters of users in Europe and nearly two thirds of users in North America will employ LTE in 2017.

This contrasts with just over half of users in Asia Pacific, and 12 per cent in Central and South America.

Smith said LTE take up will be greatly skewed toward European and North American markets in the short to medium term, where ARPU will be highest.

"However, we will also see significant take up in China, and we may also see countries like India bypass 3G altogether, and move straight to LTE," he said.

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