A T-Mobile employee holds a new android-based smartphone in London
Research from iSuppli says smartphones have the led the way for the mobile communications industry to reach nearly $250 billion in revenue. REUTERS

The mobile communications industry is soon to be worth a quarter-trillion, according to new research from iSuppli.

The research states global mobile communications factory equipment revenue this year will reach $235.5 billion, which is a seven percent increase from $218.2 billion in 2009. This growth has been driven by the huge spike in sales for 3G phones and expansion of mobile broadband across the world. Next year, growth will surpass the quarter trillion mark, with revenues reaching $271.3 billion.

To put it in perspective, that is greater than the gross domestic product of Finland in 2009. If the mobile communicatins industry were a nation it would be in the top one-fifth.

By 2014, iSuppli projects the mobile communications industry to be $359.3 billion. The firm says the network encompasses cell phones, cordless phones, battery chargers, mobile infrastructure, mobile and fixed broadband access devices and wireless LAN equipment such as routers.

3G smartphone handsets had the largest share of revenue for the industry this year at $86.4 billion. This was a 36.4 percent increase from last year's $64.2 billion. Revenue for the 1G/2G handsets was down 18.6 percent from $68.3 billion in 2009.

Among mobile handsets, 3G continues to be the dominant technology in 2010 and likely will maintain that distinction beyond 2014. For their part, wireless carriers-while wrestling with the issue of heavy data traffic on their networks-are attempting to maximize investments in existing 3.5G and 3.75G technologies through incremental network upgrades. At the same time, carriers are deploying next-generation 4G technologies such as long term evolution (LTE), to begin in earnest by 2011, Francis Sideco, principal analyst for wireless research at iSuppli, said in a statement.

iSuppli states phones from Apple, Research in Motion and HTC, which are primarily smartphones, have taken share away from companies that offer more generalized handset offerings. The smartphone industry as a whole is expected to grow at a rate of 40 percent this upcoming year.