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Last Updated: Monday, 29 January 2007, 15:09 GMT
Mobile internet use 'increasing'
BBC News website on a mobile handset
More phones than ever have access to simple data services
Mobile phone users in the UK accessed the internet via their handsets about 15.9 million times throughout December 2006, says the Mobile Data Association.

The association's report shows an increase of one million unique sessions over November 2006, the prior record.

However, much of the recent increase could be due to seasonal gift-giving said Thomas Husson, a mobile analyst at Jupiter Research.

In the past three months, mobile users accessed the web 45.6 million times.

Unique consumer internet sessions on the O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone networks were included in the report.

Despite the new numbers, Mr Husson said mobile data was "far from being mainstream".

More usage in 2007

He added that an increase in data use should be expected over the next year due to a larger installed base of internet-capable mobile phones, better user experiences, user education, and new consumer-friendly price points.

The question for mobile network owners is: can they convert web browsers into purchasers of other services
Nick Lane
Principal Analyst, Informa Telecoms and Media

Nick Lane, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media, reiterated the importance of user education.

"The continued advancement of handsets means people are beginning to spend more time familiarising themselves with new services," most common of which are news, sport and weather updates Mr Lane said.

He said that by the end of 2007, 797.6 million mobile phone subscriptions worldwide, or roughly 25%, will include web browsing.

Location based services

Both analysts said that location-based mobile services should be a growth area for mobile data in the coming year.

In a recent survey conducted by Informa, consumers repeatedly ranked location-aware services like maps as a highly desirable handset feature.

"All the major players are starting to build services around navigation and maps, but they're still new," and aren't quite ready yet Mr Husson said.

"It's only a question of time" before location services will be added to the increasing amount of digital information available on handsets, he added.

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