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GSM/UMTS services gain half a billion new customers in past year
Posted: 15-Aug-2007 [Source: 3G Americas]

[3G Americas reports 564.6 million new subscriptions to GSM/UMTS services worldwide in the twelve months ending in June.]

Bellevue, WA -- 3G Americas, an organization representing the GSM family of technologies in the Americas, today reports a total of 564.6 million new subscriptions to GSM/UMTS services worldwide in the twelve months ending in June, with almost 18% of these from the Western Hemisphere alone, according to the estimates of Informa's World Cellular Information Service. GSM/UMTS added nearly 100 million subscriptions in the Americas during this time period, more new subscriptions than any other technology. GSM/UMTS continues to lead the wireless market of Latin America and the Caribbean, where nearly 22 million GSM users were added in 2Q 2007, increasing GSM market share in the region to 74%.

GSM is not only the leading industry standard for reliable wireless voice communication with more than 2.5 billion customers, but also plays an integral role in 3G as more than two thirds of the estimated 200 million 3G users across the globe use UMTS/HSPA technology for mobile broadband. There are currently 181 UMTS operators in service across 77 countries, with an additional 72 networks planned, in deployment, or in trial. Of those 181 operators, 135 have enhanced service with HSDPA, with 80 additional HSDPA networks planned. Five operators across the world have launched HSUPA technology to date, and over 130 more operators plan to upgrade with HSUPA, many in the second half of 2007.

GSM technologies account for 85% of mobile wireless customers globally. More than half a billion new subscriptions to the GSM family in the past twelve months ending June 2007 represent a worldwide growth rate of 29.5%. Focusing on the Western Hemisphere, GSM holds nearly a 60% share of market, with a subscriber base of 358 million GSM/UMTS customers, compared to 191 million for CDMA. In Latin America and the Caribbean, there are 340 million total wireless users, and of these, 253 million use GSM, which now holds a market share of 74% in the region, up from 62% one year ago.

Erasmo Rojas, Director of Latin America and the Caribbean for 3G Americas stated, "The growth in the uptake of GSM/EDGE/UMTS technologies in Latin America continues to progress. Wireless service providers are achieving great results in increased contribution to their Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) from wireless data services through their deployment of EDGE and now recently UMTS/HSDPA." He continued, "As of June 2007, typical operator ARPU from wireless data value-added services represents more than 15% of total wireless revenue in countries such as Mexico (15%), Ecuador (20%), Argentina (24%) and Venezuela (24%)."

Following are highlights from some leading GSM operators in the Americas, as of 2Q 2007 reports:


-- Boosted by strong data growth, AT&T's second quarter wireless service ARPU posted its best year-over-year growth in several years.

-- In second quarter of 2007, wireless service revenues grew 14.9% to $9.5 billion versus the second quarter 2006.

-- Wireless data revenues in the second quarter of 2007 increased 66.9% to $1.7 billion versus the second quarter of 2006, or nearly 18% of total wireless revenue, driven by strong increases in both consumer and business data usage including messaging, downloads, media bundles, laptop connectivity, smart phone connectivity and enterprise vertical market solutions.


-- Contract ARPU was $57 in the second quarter of 2007, up from $56 in the first quarter of 2007 and up from $55 in the second quarter of 2006, driven by increases in data and airtime revenues.

-- Data services revenues were $616 million in the second quarter of 2007, representing 14.7% of blended ARPU, or $7.80 per customer, compared to 14.3%, or $7.50 in the first quarter of 2007, and 10.9%, or $5.70 in second quarter of 2006.


-- During the quarter ended June 30, 2007, wireless data revenue totaled $167 million, an increase of 51% over the corresponding period in 2006. Data revenue represented approximately 13% of total network revenue, compared to 10% in the corresponding period last year.

Chris Pearson, President of 3G Americas commented on the increasing ARPU by stating, "GSM operators and their customers are realizing the benefits of the variety of wireless data services and applications that are enabled through high-speed wireless data, particularly with the deployment of mobile broadband with UMTS/HSDPA. The uptake of data services by consumers is the tide that will lift all boats for those operators that are moving to 3G."


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