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300 million UMTS subscribers: mobile broadband goes global
More than 400 million 3G customers around the world

Mobile broadband industry association the UMTS Forum has confirmed today that 3G subscriptions to UMTS networks based on WCDMA technology have exceeded 300 million (source: Wireless Intelligence www.wirelessintelligence.com).

UMTS/WCDMA now represents almost a tenth of global GSM/UMTS family (comprising GSM, EDGE, WCDMA and HSPA) that now surpasses 3.3 billion connections.

Aggregated with 100+ million connections* to CDMA2000 1xEV-DO networks, the total of all 3G cellular customers worldwide has passed 400 million.

Of more than 300 million UMTS subscribers worldwide, this total includes almost 60 million customers of HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) networks. HSPA is the second step in a smooth evolutionary path to global mobile broadband as mapped out by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

Deployed as a straightforward software upgrade to UMTS/WCDMA networks, HSPA significantly reduces packet-based mobile data transport costs while offering backwards compatibility with operators’ WCDMA cellular infrastructure.

Global demand for mobile broadband is accelerating. HSPA subscriptions are currently growing by 4 million per month, while commercial HSPA network operations already exceed 200. This represents roughly 90% of all UMTS deployments that currently number around 230 commercial networks in 100 countries. Furthermore, HSPA traffic now constitutes over 70% of the total traffic in all 3G/UMTS networks worldwide.

While it took four years to achieve the first 100 UMTS network deployments, with HSPA this milestone was reached in little over a year.

To date, around 50 operators have also deployed High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA). This increases peak uplink data performance to megabit speeds, enabling a new wave of interactive, media-rich services.

“300 million people – almost 5% of the world’s population – can already access mobile multimedia services via 3G/UMTS”, says UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaimé. “And of those, a fifth are experiencing improved data speeds and quality of service with HSPA upgrades, fulfilling the initial promise of 3G."

“Through compelling pricing and hundreds of terminal devices including handsets, embedded notebooks and USB dongles, users no longer need to be tethered to their home or office PC to enjoy high-speed, media-rich applications. These figures demonstrate emphatically that mobile broadband is truly going global.”

The UMTS Forum anticipates that 3G/UMTS subscriptions will reach 340 million by the end of 2008, representing around 7% of the world’s population. It is also predicted that HSPA subscriptions will reach 75 million in the same timeframe.

*Source: Wireless Intelligence/CDG