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A billion 3G/UMTS mobile connections, confirms UMTS Forum
Global 1bn total includes WCDMA, HSPA & LTE subscriptions

23 January 2012: The UMTS Forum (www.umts-forum.org ) confirms that global connections to the 3GPP family of Third Generation/IMT-2000 mobile networks now exceed one billion (source: Wireless Intelligence www.wirelessintelligence.com )

Representing almost a fifth of all mobile connections worldwide, the one billion total spans customers of WCDMA, HPSA/HSPA+ and LTE networks. This 1bn 3G/UMTS figure also includes around 50 million subscriptions to TD-SCDMA networks – the China-developed 3G system that’s also standardised in 3GPP*.

Global 3G connections are boosted by a further 225 million CDMA2000 1xEV-DO subscribers, mainly in Asia and North America. Standardised separately from 3GPP, 1xEV-DO is the ‘sibling’ cellular technology recognized by the ITU as part of the IMT-2000 family of third generation systems.

Of almost 400 3GPP-family 3G networks worldwide (source: Wireless Intelligence), the vast majority (over 385) have now implemented HSPA that gives data speeds in the 2-14 Mbps range. Furthermore, around 140 network operators are using HSPA+ technology to deliver even higher peak theoretical speeds of up to 42 Mbps for their customers.

After the first LTE networks launched commercially in December 2009, commercial LTE deployments now number almost 50 networks, with over 150 operators committed to launch the technology. In a second step, 4G/LTE-Advanced – recently standardised by ITU – will be commercialised by 2015, promising peak data rates in the region of 1 Gigabit/s.

“The commercial success of 3G around the world is unarguable, with 3GPP/UMTS as the leading standard”, states UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaimé. “Capitalising on that success, 3GPP/LTE will become the global wireless standard, around which current mobile technologies will converge for the benefits of customers in terms of roaming, interoperability, and a seamless mobile broadband experience”.

Taking the end of 2009 as “Year Zero” for commercial LTE deployments, there are fast approaching 10 million subscriptions to LTE networks.

“While forecasts vary, some observers predict that LTE subscriptions will ramp up faster than the birth of 3G a decade ago”, notes Bienaimé. “As the classical constraints on consumer uptake are removed – notably terminal availability and pricing – it’s already looking likely that demand for LTE will hit mass market volumes from 2013.”

* Third Generation Partnership Project www.3gpp.org

About the UMTS Forum


Mobile broadband is changing the way the world communicates. The UMTS Forum helps all players in this dynamic new value chain understand and profit from the opportunities of 3G/UMTS networks and their Long Term Evolution (LTE).

The UMTS Forum participates actively in the work of the ITU, EC, ETSI, 3GPP and CEPT as well as other technical and commercial organisations globally. It also contributes to the timely licensing and deployment of mobile broadband globally through regular dialogue with regulators and responses to public consultations.

The UMTS Forum supports the interests of its membership with a range of studies, reports and other outputs. Principal focus areas include markets trends, mobile broadband services and applications, key growth markets, spectrum & regulation, technology & implementation. A strong promotional voice is maintained via a high-profile presence at conferences, seminars and workshops as well as regular briefings to the media, analysts and other stakeholders.

Membership of the UMTS Forum draws together everyone with an interest in mobile broadband, including network operators, regulators and the manufacturers of network infrastructure and terminal equipment.


For more information:

Chris Solbé
UMTS Forum Press Office
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