SOURCE: 3G Americas

February 09, 2007 05:00 ET

New GSM Technology Milestones to Invigorate Market in 2007

263 Global EDGE Commitments; 207 Commercial EDGE Networks; 100 Million Global UMTS/HSDPA Customers; 151 Commercial UMTS Networks; 95 Commercial HSDPA Networks; Nearly 100 Million New GSM Customers in Western Hemisphere in 2006

BELLEVUE, WA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 9, 2007 -- 2006 marked the arrival of true mobile broadband services with UMTS/HSDPA in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, and shaped a year of significant milestones for the GSM family of technologies worldwide. New GSM technology milestones are already invigorating the market in 2007.

Massive Deployments on a Worldwide Basis

More than half of the nearly 300 operators who have announced commitments to deploy UMTS are already in commercial service in 67 countries throughout the world. Of the 151 commercial UMTS networks, 95 are already offering HSDPA, the next evolutionary step in the GSM migration to 3G and beyond according to 3G Americas' research. In 2007, an expected 55 additional operators will launch HSDPA and 3G Americas predicts that most all UMTS operators will deploy HSPA.

Global Scope and Scale

With more than 2.2 billion GSM/UMTS customers today in 217 countries, the scope and scale offered by GSM wireless digital service is unmatched. 2006 was a year when some leading CDMA operators announced a complete shift in their 3G strategy -- such as Telstra in Australia, Vivo in Brazil, America Movil companies in Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as Telefonica's Movistar in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela -- to shut down their CDMA networks entirely or to adopt the GSM family of technologies in addition to CDMA. In the Western Hemisphere, nearly 100 million net additions were made to the GSM family of technologies subscriber base in 2006. There are 100 million GSM subscriptions in the US/Canada as of January 2007, according to Informa Telecoms & Media.

UMTS is seeing tremendous growth as the milestone of 100 million customers was achieved by January 2007. It is expected that by 2009 there will be more than a half a billion 3G UMTS/HSPA customers and by 2011 that customer base will reach one billion (Informa).

Solid Technology Foundation

UMTS/HSDPA offers a very compelling solution for mobile operators to cost-effectively offer their customers high-quality voice and high-speed mobile broadband services.

--  HSPDA users today experience throughput rates in excess of 1 Mbps
    under favorable conditions.
--  HSDPA reduces latency to 70-100 milliseconds.
--  Data capacity of HSDPA-enhanced UMTS networks will be increased to 2.5
    times that of UMTS.
--  When the technology is commercially deployed (expected late 2007),
    HSUPA users will experience peak achievable rates close to 1 Mbps in the
    uplink under favorable conditions.
    
Cost Effective 3G Devices and Networks

In 2006, Motorola won the bid for Emerging Market Handsets with the GSM Association for a sub-$30 US terminal. Additionally, 3G Americas provided a paper on Technical Recommendations for Mass Market 3G UMTS Handset in July 2006 that posed a further recommendation to the industry. It is hoped that the GSMA initiative for a low cost 3G handset can break the important $100 price barrier and boost the sales of 3G devices for years to come.

Applications & Services

Some new applications and services that will reach the market due to 3G UMTS/HSPA in 2007 have already been demonstrated. It is expected that HSUPA, the next step in the evolution of HSPA technologies, will invigorate services even further when it is deployed in 2007. In January 2007, the first demonstration of a "live" video share call was made by US operator AT&T/Cingular Wireless as a glimpse of what to expect from the GSM family of technologies in the near future. The service allows users to send a live video stream to a recipient during a standard voice call on the HSDPA network. Among other applications, Near Field Communications (NFC) promises to deliver exciting smart wallet applications and other 'contactless' applications. IMS application services are cropping up as well, such as recent demonstration announcements of SIP/IMS, IPTV over live GSM networks allowing Video on Demand to users' GSM phones. Applications will benefit from the technology across all users -- enterprise, consumers and public safety.

Latin America Wireless Growth Spurt

Latin America and the Caribbean continued substantial growth in the wireless market with more than 300 million wireless customers estimated as of YE 2006, compared to 239 million at YE 2005.

"At the end of 2006 there were more than 206 million GSM customers, representing a nearly 70% market share of all digital wireless technologies in Latin America and Caribbean today," stated Erasmo Rojas, Director of Latin America and the Caribbean for 3G Americas. "3G UMTS/HSDPA services first hit the regional market in 2006, launched by Cingular in Puerto Rico in November and Entel in Chile in December. We are going to see more UMTS/HSDPA trials and launches in 2007 by some of the 27 GSM operators in the region who have already committed to upgrade their GSM and EDGE networks and deploy 3G services to their customers." Mr. Rojas added, "The lower cost 3G handsets will provide additional market incentive for 3G."

EDGE on Global Scale

EDGE was first deployed in the Americas and continues to make significant progress throughout the world achieving global scope and scale, with deployment commitments from more than 263 operators, including 207 commercial networks in service in 110 countries today. Nearly all UMTS/HSDPA devices manufactured today have EDGE as the compatible fallback technology from UMTS/HSPA to allow for global roaming and delivery of 3G services.

2007 as the Proving Ground

Chris Pearson, President of 3G Americas, sees 2007 as the proving ground for customers of the rewards they will receive from the advanced wireless GSM networks. "Life is changing because of mobile wireless technology," he simply stated. "We are seeing just the tip of the iceberg in how 3G technology will enable even more services to the world."

About 3G Americas: Unifying the Americas through Wireless Technology

The mission of 3G Americas is to promote and facilitate the seamless deployment throughout the Americas of GSM and its evolution to 3G and beyond. The organization fully supports the Third Generation (3G) technology migration strategy to EDGE and UMTS/HSPA adopted by many operators in the Americas that is expected to account for up to 85% of next-generation customers worldwide. 3G Americas is headquartered in Bellevue, WA with an office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Dallas, TX. For more information, visit our website at www.3gamericas.org.

3G Americas' Board of Governors includes: Alcatel-Lucent, Andrew Corporation, AT&T, Cable & Wireless, Ericsson, Gemalto, HP, Motorola, Nortel Networks, Nokia, Openwave, Research in Motion (RIM), Rogers Wireless (Canada), Siemens, T-Mobile USA, Telcel (Mexico), Telefonica Moviles, and Texas Instruments.

About Informa Telecoms & Media

Informa Telecoms & Media provides business intelligence and strategic services to the global telecoms and media markets. All of our products and services -- from news, trend analysis and forecasting to industry data, face-to-face events and training -- are driven by our deep understanding of the markets we serve and by our goal to help our clients make better business decisions. www.informatm.com

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