Despite the proliferation of smartphones that include built-in mobile hotspot capabilities, the market for dedicated mobile hotspot routers like Novatel Wireless’s Mifi line of products is seen growing significantly over the next five years. According to a new report from market research and analysis firm ABI Research, 7.1 million dedicated mobile hotspot devices will ship in 2011 carrying an estimated end-user revenue value of $1 billion. In 2016, ABI expects annual shipments to reach 60 million units, representing more than $5 billion in end-user revenue value. Read on for more.

“The first products to reach the market in 2009 generally overshot the mass consumer population,” ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr said in a statement. “Products were very complex to set up and catered to an IT-managed remote workgroup environment, such as a construction site or field emergency response team.” Orr says that significant headway has been made across a number of markets thanks to the introduction of smaller devices, reduced complexity and a push from carriers looking to open new data revenue channels.

Mobile hotspot routers like Novatel’s Mifi lineup connect to cellular data networks and then share that data connection wirelessly with any Wi-Fi-enabled device. Novatel announced in October that it had shipped 3 million Mifi-branded mobile hotspots to date.

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.