3G Americas and Informa Telecoms & Media announced today that the milestone of two billion subscribers worldwide will be achieved by the end of June for the GSM family of technologies-GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS and HSDPA.
Globally, there are 2.29 billion cellular users encompassing all technologies, placing GSM as the dominant market leader.
And let’s see how these customers are distributed all over the globe.
Latin America and the Caribbean led the world market percentage growth rate for GSM, adding more than 74 million new customers in the one year period from March 2005 to March 2006 — nearly doubling their subscriber base with a growth rate of 97%. The Middle East followed by Africa are the world regions with the next largest growth rates, respectively. However, China continues to be the largest single market of GSM customers, with 662.6 million as of March 2006.
“It took approximately twelve years to reach the first one billion GSM subscriptions, back in 2004,” stated Devine Kofiloto, Principal Analyst, Informa Telecoms & Media, “but only two and a half years to hit the next billion GSM/UMTS subscriptions.”
In the Western Hemisphere, where the customer base for GSM begins to approach a quarter of a billion customers, a principal reason for the technology’s tremendous growth is the large number of CDMA and TDMA operators choosing to migrate their networks to the GSM family of technologies. Heavily contributing to this customer migration are operators America Movil and Telefonica Moviles launching GSM networks in all their existing entities in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Only two remaining Telefonica entities still have CDMA networks in operation.
Additionally, in the past few years, both Telecom Italia (TIM) and Millicom International chose to migrate each of their five subsidiaries to a GSM network, as well as did numerous other operators, including Cable & Wireless throughout the Caribbean. In the U.S. and Canada, Cingular Wireless, T-Mobile USA and Rogers Wireless, as well as numerous rural and regional operators who have chosen GSM, are contributing to the technology’s North American growth. GSM is now deployed in every single country and territory in the Western Hemisphere.
“More than 58% of the total number of customers in Latin America and the Caribbean are using GSM services, and this share of market continues to increase,” emphasized Chris Pearson, President of 3G Americas. “GSM economies of scale are unmatched in the industry. GSM is not only the number one mobile wireless technology in the world, but has the number one market share with 48% of the entire wireless customer base in all of the Western Hemisphere.”
Globally, the GSM family of technologies continues its rapid evolution to 3G high-speed wireless data. EDGE is commercially offered by 133 operators across 80 countries, including 31 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Worldwide, there are 81 additional EDGE networks planned or in deployment. There are currently 105 UMTS networks in service across 50 countries, with 59 more networks planned or in deployment. HSDPA, which is an enhanced version of UMTS for high speed mobile broadband, was launched first in the world by Cingular Wireless in December 2005. Now, five months later, HSDPA is commercially deployed in 32 networks and 67 additional operators have networks planned, in deployment, or in trial. It is expected that nearly all UMTS operators will deploy HSDPA, essentially a simple upgrade to UMTS, resulting in a significant increase in data capacity and offering operators a much-reduced network cost for data services.
And here is a picture with the World Cellular Subscriber Distribution.