Mobile industry body The UMTS Forum has held a workshop in Prague this week to provide an overview of the deployment status of UMTS Third Generation (3G) mobile systems in Europe and worldwide. Coinciding with the UMTS Forum's 30th General Assembly held in Prague, the workshop - titled "UMTS in the Extended European Union and Neighbouring Countries" - was addressed on Monday by Czech operator Eurotel's Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Terrence Valeski.
The workshop featured presentations from UMTS Forum members including mobile operators, manufacturers and The European Commission. Topics discussed included UMTS market developments worldwide, current and future requirements for 3G radio spectrum, latest regulatory developments and a discussion of the UMTS business case for mobile operators in Eastern Europe.
Using WCDMA radio access technology, UMTS provides the most natural and cost-effective evolutionary path to 3G for more than 75% of the world's wireless market. Since their first launch in Japan two years ago, UMTS networks using WCDMA technology are already operational in Australia, Austria, Italy, Luxembourg, Japan, Sweden and the UK. They have 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 WCDMA radio access technology that builds on operators' investments in GSM. Seven out of the world's ten biggest operators (representing 51% of the world's mobile subscribers) have already chosen WCDMA. In addition, more than 80 operators in 27 European markets have chosen WCDMA technology.
"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 continues to work hard to resolve interoperability and other technical issues, we are seeing an impressive demonstration of the worldwide commitment to the success of UMTS."
"For the Extended European Union, the opportunities presented by UMTS are indeed exciting", continued Bienaim. "By confirming their own 3G licensing plans quickly, members of the Extended Union can join the opportunity that UMTS offers worldwide."