3G/UMTS subscribers hit 16 million, confirms UMTS Forum
According to industry body The UMTS Forum, strong growth in demand for 3G/UMTS phones from European customers and continuing network rollout has contributed to a surge in worldwide WCDMA customer numbers during the last quarter of 2004.
At the beginning of 2005, global subscriptions to 3G/UMTS networks had already reached 16 million on more than 60 networks - a dramatic increase since the 10 million customer milestone was passed in September 2004.
Overall, the global total has been augmented by contributions from network launches in other territories outside Europe, including the US and Asia Pacific. This accelerating growth has been particularly pronounced in Europe, where a number of major operators aligned their Christmas marketing plans with the widespread availability of a choice of attractive WCDMA terminals. There are already more than 100 WCDMA devices available, including handsets and PC card products from Asian, European and US vendors. Even in developing countries like Africa, where the uptake of 3G was anticipated later than in other markets, the end of 2004 has seen the launch of 3G/UMTS networks in South Africa and Mauritius, while other WCDMA networks are expected to be tested in Northern Africa by the end of 2005.
Commenting on the rapid increase in demand for 3G/UMTS networks and services, UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaim notes that Europe's WCDMA subscriber base is rapidly catching up with the Asian market:
"Thanks mainly to the large number of commercial WCDMA network launches during the second half of last year, European 3G/UMTS customers now account for around one third of the global subscriber base. We look forward to continuing growth throughout 2005 in all world regions where 3G/UMTS networks are now commercialised."