3G Americas reports that for the Western Hemisphere, GSM demonstrated impressive growth in 2004 by more than doubling its GSM customer base; adding more customers than any other wireless technology; and recording a 109% annual gain to reach a total of 114 million GSM customers. From December 2003 to December 2004, GSM added more than 59 million customers in the Americas alone; worldwide, GSM added 284 million new customers and this is more than the entire customer base of any other mobile technology. Close to this time last year, the GSM community highlighted the key milestone of one billion GSM customers worldwide; by the end of 2004, total GSM customers surpassed 1.275 billion. More than 99% of the world's population lives in countries where GSM networks are deployed including every country in the Western Hemisphere where there are more than 120 licensed GSM operators.
In the entire Americas region in the 4th quarter 2004, GSM gained 23 million customers representing 87% of the net Q4 wireless customers. This translates to a 73% annual growth for GSM from 2003 to 2004 in the U.S. and Canada, and a robust 169% growth rate in the Latin America and Caribbean region.
Erasmo Rojas, Director of Latin America & the Caribbean for 3G Americas commented, "GSM growth in Latin America has been nothing short of explosive; in the fourth quarter, the fifteen million new GSM customers added in the region were three times more than the number of CDMA customers added." Rojas continued, "Not only does GSM now outnumber CDMA customers in Latin America, GSM is also expected to surpass TDMA customers in 2005. The recent announcement of ultra low cost $US40 GSM mobile phones will enable more customers an affordable high quality communications system."
In the GSM evolution to 3G technology, EDGE and UMTS continue their progress in the Americas and the world. EDGE is the fastest nationwide wireless data network in the U.S. and Canada with coverage available to more than 250 million potential customers (POPS) in the U.S. alone. EDGE is currently deployed by 56 operators in 41 countries globally with another 96 operators committed to launch the technology. These operators represent more than 260 million customers on their networks today. EDGE is complementary to UMTS/HSDPA, providing operators with a future-proof 3G deployment strategy that utilizes the same core network.
UMTS is the leading global 3G technology choice, commercially available on 64 networks in 33 countries. Since year-end 2003, UMTS has grown from 2.7 million to 16 million customers worldwide in twelve months. This exceeds the growth rates of GSM technology at the same stage in its evolution. Additionally, there are 29 operators in 21 countries who have announced their complementary deployment of EDGE and UMTS technologies to capture the optimal business advantage and it is expected that most all UMTS operators will deliver EDGE in the future.
"EDGE and UMTS growth continues throughout the world. EDGE provides enterprise customers a great combination of coverage, speed, devices, and low latency," stated Chris Pearson, President of 3G Americas. He continued, "UMTS is gaining roughly two million customers per month with an expected 20 million users at the end of February, and this will only continue to substantially increase with more than 128 operators in various stages of deployment of their UMTS networks, nearly half of whom have commercially launched."
Data is based on figures from Informa Telecoms & Media. For charts on GSM growth, as well as EDGE and UMTS deployment lists, visit 3G Americas' website at: www.3gamericas.org/English/statistics/index.cfm.