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3G/UMTS Customer Numbers Hit 10 Million Milestone PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 22 September 2004

Industry association The UMTS Forum has confirmed that worldwide 3G/UMTS customer numbers have reached 10 million.

Speaking at the AMTA Congress in Sydney, UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaim indicated that the milestone was reached this month as growth for 3G/UMTS networks and services continues to grow.

"With 10 million people already using 3G/UMTS networks and devices to access a wide range of services, it's clear that all the factors required to drive mass market take-up are now falling into place. By the end of this year we can expect to see as many as 70 networks operating commercially, and this will mean a further acceleration in adoption rates globally."

While addressing the congress, Bienaim also highlighted Australia's diversified and up-to-date mobile telecommunications market.

"Outside Europe, Australia had one of the first GSM markets in the world, but now it is one of the few markets that has chosen to adopt both CDMA and GSM/UMTS standards.

"This adoption coupled with Australia's geographical position in the Pacific Rim should see Australia benefit immensely from the information and experiences that have been collated in the rollout of 3G/UMTS in Europe and Asia," he said.

Growth in demand for 3G/UMTS networks and services has strengthened recently with the availability of more terminal devices and a continued increase in the number of networks launched commercially.

Bienaim said there's been an upturn in 3G/UMTS subscriber numbers since the early months of this year which coincides with a surge in network launch announcements during Q1 and Q2, plus a wider choice of attractively priced handsets from Asian, European and US manufacturers that compete head-to-head with the best available 2G models.

Commercially available on 46 networks in 24 countries, 3G/UMTS is supported by a growing choice of WCDMA handsets and PC datacard products. More than 75 models have already been launched or announced.

Building on current investments in GSM/GPRS, 3G/UMTS offers mobile operators significant capacity to support greater numbers of voice and data customers - especially in urban centres - plus higher data rates at lower incremental cost than 2G.

"3G/UMTS affords significant cost gains per traffic unit, especially in high traffic environments", states Bienaim.

"As well as enabling new bandwidth-rich multimedia services to drive increased usage and non-voice revenues, 3G/UMTS enables existing GSM operators to reduce their rollout costs by up to 50% compared with greenfield 3G deployments."

With over 1.1 billion customers globally, 2G GSM networks provide operators with a highly cost-efficient platform to roll out true 3G services. Re-use of GSM legacy infrastructure affords a range of cost optimisation opportunities including:

reuse of existing sites and sites sharing
use of dual-mode mobile stations
use of same core network platform and IT infrastructure
step by step development of service platforms

3G/UMTS also provides a clearly defined roadmap to even higher data rates and new services. Future enhancements standardised within the 3G Partnership Project ( include:

- High speed downlink packet access (HSDPA), increasing theoretical downlink speeds to over 14 Mbps
- Support for IP multimedia subsystem (IMS), enabling advanced IP capabilities for next-generation mobile multimedia services and applications
- Multimedia Broadcast / Multicast Service (MBMS)
- Interworking with other wire-free network technologies.

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