Sunday, 07 September 2008 
GSM/HSPA Subscriptions Now 3 Billion Worldwide PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 April 2008

3G Americas, a wireless industry group advocating for the GSM family of technologies in the Americas, today announces the technology milestone of 3 billion GSM and UMTS/HSPA subscriptions worldwide, based upon research and projections by Informa Telecoms and Media.  Today, 88% of the world's 3.5 billion mobile wireless subscriptions are to the GSM family of technologies.

GSM mobile wireless technology continues to outperform most of the communications technologies ever invented.  By comparison, there are only 850 million personal computers worldwide, forecast to reach 2 billion in the year 2015 (Forrester, June 2007).  Three billion GSM/HSPA subscriptions is nearly triple the number of people accessing the Internet around the world, 1.1 billion.  Fixed landline phones number just over this, at 1.3 billion globally.  The closest technology in terms of number of electronic devices is the number of television sets.  But even that number falls a full billion short of the 3 billion GSM/HSPA milestone, with an estimated 2 billion television sets in use today (Source: Communities Dominate Brands blog, Tomi Ahonen, January 2007).

Chris Pearson, President of 3G Americas, commented, "The rapid uptake of GSM mobile wireless technology is unprecedented. Three billion subscriptions --nearly half of the world's population-- is a milestone that is unmatched in terms of volume and affect on people’s lives.  The GSM family of technology’s expansive scope is a central reason we will continue to thrive as the market leader for mobile broadband with HSPA, and in the future, LTE.”

More than 700 GSM networks worldwide in 220 countries provide by far the largest global coverage of any wireless technology.  These services are not limited to voice, as 291 EDGE deployments across 141 countries deliver wireless data services today.  High speed wireless data is further enhanced by 213 commercial UMTS networks in service in 89 countries delivering 3G services, adding over 50 networks in the past year alone.  It is expected that nearly all UMTS operators will deploy HSDPA and its upgrade to HSUPA, continuing the GSM evolutionary path and improving the customer experience with more content rich, interactive and streaming services.  There are already 187 commercial HSDPA networks worldwide in 80 countries, including 39 with HSUPA enhanced uplink capabilities. (3G Americas refers to these 39 networks with combined HSDPA and HSUPA service as HSPA networks.)

The 3GPP roadmap for GSM evolution follows a smooth and backwards-compatible migration path from GSM and GPRS to EDGE, UMTS/HSPA, and eventually, LTE.  3G UMTS/HSPA subscriptions are estimated to number 205 million today, representing the majority of total global 3G subscriptions.   With LTE expected to be deployed commercially in 2010 and beyond, leading GSM and CDMA operators worldwide have already announced LTE as their next-generation technology choice, including recent announcements by AT&T and Verizon to deploy LTE in the United States.

GSM Family of Technologies Growth in the Americas
GSM is the only technology deployed in every country in the Americas, and continues to gain in both number of subscriptions and share of market.  The GSM family added over 110 million subscriptions in the Western Hemisphere in the year 2007.  Today, total regional subscriptions number an estimated 420 million. 

From March 2007 to March 2008, GSM added over 100 million subscriptions in Latin America and the Caribbean for a total of more than 332 million subscriptions and a wireless market share of 83%, according to estimates by Informa Telecoms and Media.  As of April 2008, there are 19 commercial HSDPA networks launched in 11 countries of this region.  New launches of HSDPA occur almost on a weekly basis, and operators such as Telcel continue expansion with current commercial HSDPA deployments in 16 cities in Mexico.

In North America, operators continue upgrading and expanding their HSDPA networks.  Rogers in Canada announced today their commercial launch of HSPA at 7.2 Mbps in several cities, making them the first operator in the Western Hemisphere to announce this upgrade.   AT&T's HSDPA coverage is being extended from more than 270 major markets today to 350 leading cities by the end of the year, and the network is undergoing upgrades to HSPA as well.  AT&T today reports average customer speeds of 600-1400 Kbps for HSDPA mobile broadband service, and this continues to increase with network improvements.

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