3G Americas and Informa Telecoms & Media report that UMTS, the third generation evolution for the GSM family of technologies, having already added 33 million customers since the end of 2004, serves close to 50 million customers today.
UMTS (WCDMA) is the leading global 3G-technology choice in service today by 99 operators in 45 countries worldwide, up from 61 operators offering commercial UMTS service at the end of 2004. Another 59 networks are either in deployment or in pre-commercial or planned stages. In addition, eight operators have been awarded 3G UMTS licenses and there are 72 potential licenses yet to be awarded.
Additionally, 3G Americas confirms that EDGE technology has achieved the global scale proportionate only to the industry-leading GSM technology. There are 125 operators in 74 countries worldwide offering commercial EDGE service and another 84 operators in 29 additional countries with EDGE networks planned or already in deployment. More than 200 EDGE devices including PC cards and mobile phones have been offered throughout the world since EDGE was first commercialized.
3G Americas' President, Chris Pearson comments, "There is a clear pathway for accelerating EDGE and UMTS/HSDPA growth globally in 2006. GSM offers economies of scale that are unmatched with more than 1.67 billion customers today, and those economics are following through to the new 3G offerings. Every facet of our successful technology evolution is progressing according to plan and 3G Americas expects 2006 to be a year that highlights the leadership of HSDPA and IMS deployments."
UMTS/HSDPA is quickly becoming the industry standard for the delivery of 3G voice and data services and offers a very compelling solution for mobile operators to cost-effectively offer high-quality voice and high-speed mobile broadband services. Since Cingular Wireless launched the first wide-scale UMTS network enhanced with HSDPA in December 2005, there have been three additional commercial launches and another 55 operators are currently deploying or planning to launch the GSM evolution to true mobile broadband with HSDPA. It is expected that virtually all UMTS operators will someday upgrade to HSDPA due to significant benefits to both end user and operator, such as download speeds that can eventually average 550-1100 Kbps. In addition to throughput, HSDPA provides both latency and capacity enhancement over UMTS. In the end, HSDPA drives down the cost per bit to enable cost effective, rich multimedia services.
Pearson continued, "We expect to see tri-band HSDPA devices in early 2006 providing the vehicle to achieve the unique opportunity for truly mobile broadband services and global roaming on a single device for HSDPA with the ability to fall back to UMTS and EDGE service."
Operators and their customers are making UMTS the most popular 3G technology in the world. These same UMTS/HSDPA operators will continue to provide the most advanced technical capabilities in the world to their customers by bringing new mobile multimedia services to the market based on IMS (IP Multi-media Subsystem). The IMS architecture will serve as the cornerstone for next-generation networks that can deliver voice, data, video and multimedia services to wireless and/or wireline endpoints, enabling end-users to have access to services anywhere, anytime over multiple access technologies.
Data is based on figures from Informa Telecoms & Media.