More than half a billion new customers were connected with all technologies of mobile wireless service in the year preceding September 2006. This increased the global wireless market to more than 2.5 billion total users of various technologies. The GSM family of wireless technologies dominated the marketplace, growing its customer base by 497 million new customers and increasing its global market share to 83%, according to the research of Informa Telecoms & Media. Over the same twelve months, CDMA technology also added customers - nearly 50 million - while other technologies showed a decline, including TDMA and analog.
A key reason for GSM's notable growth is the flexibility offered by the GSM family's streamlined evolution path to next generation high speed wireless data services, including EDGE technology, which currently has commitments from 250 operators worldwide. There are 179 operators in 94 countries already offering commercial EDGE service, including 54 operators in 21 countries of the Americas.
"The indicators show that 2006 will be a banner year for mobile wireless technologies," stated Chris Pearson, President of 3G Americas. "Nearly 500 million GSM wireless customers were added in the twelve months through September, and global handset sales for all technologies are expected to reach the one billion mark by the end of the year. 3G services are definitely on the rise, with an announcement by a GSM operator nearly every other day of their 3G deployment and with more than 100 million UMTS/HSDPA customers anticipated by the end of 2006."
Today, the GSM family of technologies --GSM, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS and HSDPA-- has more than 2.1 billion subscribers worldwide across 221 countries. Not only does the GSM share of market continue to grow globally, but the Western Hemisphere has especially shown phenomenal growth.
GSM increased its market share to 53% of all wireless customers in the Western Hemisphere, compared to 41% at the end of 3Q 2005, gaining 12 percentage points in share of market. CDMA's market declined year-over-year from 36% to 33% as of September 2006. TDMA continued its decline from 16% to 8% and iDEN showed some market share decline, from 5.5% to 5.3%.
In North America, GSM added 18.8 million customers in the twelve months ending September 2006, an annual growth rate of 25% year-over-year. This compares to the CDMA new customer additions of nearly 12 million and 3.7 million iDEN customers. In Latin America and the Caribbean, GSM added more than 83 million subscribers in the year ending September 2006, which represents an annual growth rate of 79%. CDMA recorded 9.6 million customers and iDEN added more than 900 thousand customers in the same year.
According to Eva Benguigui, Latin America Research Analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media, "Before the end of this year, the milestone of 200 million GSM subscriptions will be reached in Latin America and the Caribbean." With a GSM wireless customer base of nearly 189 million as of September 2006, Latin America and the Caribbean is considered a key market for future growth.
UMTS is the leading global 3G technology with 142 UMTS operators across 61 countries in commercial service. HSDPA, the enhancement of UMTS service, was first commercially launched only eleven months ago in December 2005. Today, there are 72 commercial networks worldwide in 41 countries, with another 56 planned, in deployment, or in trial. UMTS/HSDPA is the only mobile broadband technology that offers simultaneous support for both voice and data in the same spectrum band. HSDPA is backward-compatible with UMTS, EDGE and
Pearson continued, "With the data throughput and capacity performance of EDGE and HSDPA high speed wireless data networks, GSM operators are delivering some of the highest rates for data revenue in the world." Many GSM operators are recording wireless data revenue exceeding 10 percent of Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). For instance, in Q3 2006, Cingular Wireless reported data ARPU at 12.7% of overall wireless ARPU, a 46% year-over-year increase since Q3 2005. T-Mobile USA reported Q3 2006 data revenues at 11.3% of blended ARPU, compared to 8.3% one year ago. For Rogers Wireless in Canada, data ARPU increased in Q3 2006 to 10.5% of total wireless revenue for the quarter. Additionally, Telcel in Mexico ended Q3 2006 with 13% of revenue attributed to data services and expects continued growth.
Data is based on figures from Informa Telecoms & Media World Cellular Information Service (WCIS) and company reports compiled by 3G Americas. Detailed charts on GSM growth as well as EDGE and UMTS/HSDPA deployment lists are available at 3G Americas' website: www.3gamericas.org.