3G Americas today commemorated the one billion GSM customer milestone in the world and the rapidly growing number of GSM customers in the Americas with a press and analyst briefing at CTIA. Globally, in only twelve years, GSM technology reached the billion milestone that took the PC industry 25 years. There are more wireless phones in the world today than wireline phones. It is forecast by some research analysts that GSM will reach the two billion customer mark by 2010.
"The Americas have seen a 110% annual growth rate in GSM customers from February 2003 to February 2004 - making GSM the number one technology selected by new customers throughout the region today," confirmed Rod Nelson, Chairman of 3G Americas and CTO of AT&T Wireless. "The growth of GSM in the region has been largely fueled by 60 newly licensed GSM operators in 2003 as well as the significant number of migrations by TDMA carriers for next generation services, including EDGE."
There are 152 GSM operators in 47 countries in the Americas today including migrations by 43 TDMA and 6 CDMA operators. GSM was represented in just 7 countries and territories in 1998, while today GSM is now available in virtually every country and territory with the sole exception of Haiti. Since the first launch of GSM in the 850MHz band by Cable & Wireless Panama in October 2002, 45 additional operators have chosen to deploy GSM 850MHz in the Americas.
"Contrary to some past opinions, GSM 850 has become a core band in the Americas," stated Chris Pearson, President of 3G Americas. "At least two national GSM operators in the U.S. state that more than 95% of their GSM devices currently being sold have either dual or tri-band options including GSM 850."
Another milestone achievement in the Americas is the launch of EDGE 3G services. "EDGE is the fastest nationwide wireless data technology available to more than 220 million POPs in the U.S.," Pearson continued. "EDGE is commercially available in Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Chile and Puerto Rico as well as many other countries outside the Americas. As of today, EDGE has a potential captive market of nearly one quarter of a billion customers based upon the current worldwide subscriber base of the 71 operators in 49 countries who are deploying EDGE."
EDGE is a 3G technology, which may be deployed within an operator's existing spectrum, delivering data speeds about three times faster than dial-up services. As a complement to UMTS/WCDMA, EDGE may deliver up to 50% CAPEX savings to European operators using an 'islands and seas' strategy --deploying UMTS services in highly populated areas and EDGE services in rural and regional areas. Both TIM Italy and TeliaSonera (Finland) have announced an EDGE and UMTS complementary deployment strategy and more European announcements are anticipated in 2004.