Nokia Siemens Networks, a leading maker of mobile network equipment, is already laying the groundwork for fifth-generation (5G) services to cope with rising demand for greater data capacity.
Kai Sahala, head of product marketing for mobile broadband at Nokia Siemens Networks, said development plans are moving towards a commercial launch for 5G mobile broadband by 2020.
By the end of 2013, mobile broadband will have progressed to long-term evolution (LTE) with speeds of 100 Mbps and 3G with speeds of 42 Mbps. 3G now has 1.1 billion users on more than 500 networks worldwide.
"Unlimited data tariff plans are in decline. Mobile operators are set to move to a tier-based data plan, which is more suitable for most subscribers and their varying capacity needs for mobile data," said Mr Sahala.
He said the typical 3G subscriber uses 5-10 GB of data a month.
LTE technology has been in use since 2009 and has accumulated more than 80 million subscribers on more than 800 LTE-enabled devices.
Most Asian users of LTE are in Japan and Korea, where adoption has reached 30% of the population.
Video, which takes up large amounts of data capacity storage, is a key incentive for upgrading to faster service.
The boom in smart device users, who can watch videos at almost any given time, has made 5G increasingly inviting for Nokia's developers.
According to Mr Sahala, a recent study found that 34% of LTE subscribers use a tablet for at least two hours of daily video watching.
Despite these developments, the GSM 2G network has stubbornly kept its spot in the limelight. With a global customer base of nearly 4.6 billion users, Nokia would be missing out on a critical market if it were to loosen its grip on its GSM service, which this year alone has added 125 million subscribers.
Mr Sahala also cited a report highlighting the rising number of users who are likely to switch mobile operators.
Krittika Mahattanakul, head of the Asia North subregion at Nokia Siemens Networks, said Thai spending on mobile network equipment is forecast to grow by 30% this year, fuelled by the aggressive 3G network expansion of local mobile operators.
Nokia Siemens is a supplier to AIS 3G and is also bidding to join True's 4G project.
5G refers to the next phase of mobile broadband development, with speeds tentatively at 1-10 Gbps. 4G download speeds are 3-12 Mbps, while 3G speeds are 600 Kbps to 1.4 Mbps.
South Korea's Yonhap news service reported this week that Samsung has successfully tested its 5G network and aims to provide service by 2020.