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Happy New Year for global 3G mobile industry as UMTS/WCDMA subscriptions hit 100 million
At the turn of the year, the UMTS Forum confirms that the global 3G mobile industry is on the brink of gaining its first 100 million UMTS/WCDMA customers.

According to data supplied by mobile market information provider Wireless Intelligence, the 100 million subscriber milestone is due to be passed at the start of 2007.

With a further contribution of over 50 million CDMA 2000 1xEV-DO customers, the global 3G cellular subscriber total for all technologies now stands at more than 150 million. Of this total, WCDMA subscriptions now account for two thirds of all 3G cellular connections.

"It's been another incredible year for 3G and in particular for WCDMA", commented UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaim. "On the basis of current growth rates we now estimate that worldwide 3G subscriber numbers for all technologies will comfortably exceed 275 million by the end of 2007. Looking further ahead, by the end of this decade we expect WCDMA to account for around three quarters of a global 3G subscriber total approaching 800 million."

Bienaim added that by 2010 the UMTS Forum expects worldwide cellular subscriptions (spanning all second and third generation technologies) to exceed 4 billion, almost doubling today's global penetration levels. By the end of the decade UMTS/WCDMA will approach 600 million connections - more than a seventh of all mobile subscriptions worldwide.

"We expect much of this spectacular growth over the next few years to come from markets like India, China, Eastern Europe and Latin America", said Bienaim. "Here there is enormous potential for 3G/UMTS - and its high-speed enhancements with HSDPA and HSUPA - to provide cost-effective voice and data services, notably in geographically scattered areas of low population density where fixed line connectivity and PC penetration remains poor."

"From the end of this decade, 3G Long Term Evolution (LTE) will usher in a new wave of very high speed mobile broadband services, further extending the appeal of 3G/UMTS to operators and end users."