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UMTS Forum charts mobile evolution options for operators worldwide PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 20 October 2003

Industry body The UMTS Forum has launched a new White Paper that charts the evolutionary options to 3G that are available to mobile operators worldwide.

Available now for free download, 'Mobile Evolution: Shaping the Future' presents an overview of the technical, market and service factors influencing the development and market introduction of UMTS services and applications.

The paper discusses evolution to 3G with specific reference to UMTS/W-CDMA radio access technology, which by building on GSM provides the most cost-effective path to 3G for more than 75% of the world's wireless market.

Since their first launch in Japan two years ago, W-CDMA networks have already attracted over 1.7 milllion subscribers - a figure that is widely anticipated to exceed 2 million UMTS customers before the end of 2003. Almost 120 3G licenses have already been awarded worldwide, the vast majority of them specifying W-CDMA radio access technology that builds on operators' investments in GSM.

As GSM customer numbers rapidly approach 1 billion worldwide, the GSM system - based on globally recognised, open standards - offers a natural platform for mobile operators to evolve from 2G to 3G, using fresh radio spectrum to support high-speed mobile multimedia services with wide area network coverage. The GSM family also provides significant economies of scale for operators and mobile equipment manufacturers, as well as enabling valuable roaming revenues for operators as subscribers roam internationally on other GSM networks. Incumbent GSM operators can make significant network optimisation and cost savings by retaining large portions of their existing core networks as they migrate smoothly to W-CDMA/UMTS.

Crucially, UMTS provides network operators with access to greater capacity compared with 2G to support more subscribers (especially in urban centres) as well as greater speeds and ability to support voice and new multimedia services including video. UMTS allows operators to add additional network capacity at a cost up to 8 times lower than providing incremental 2G capacity. This gives operators the opportunity to reduce the proportion of investments in relation to total turnover.

"With dozens more network launches scheduled in 2004 and 2005 plus a growing range of attractive, dual mode W-CDMA/GSM terminals, UMTS is already providing mobile customers in Europe and Asia with their first experience of 'true' 3G mobile multimedia", said Jean-Pierre Bienaim, UMTS Forum Chairman.

"As the industry in its entirety works hard to resolve interoperability and other technical issues, we are seeing an impressive demonstration of the worldwide commitment to the success of UMTS. By advancing their own 3G licensing processes in a timely fashion, there is a clear opportunity for other regions to participate alongside Europe in the enormous global opportunity that UMTS presents."

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