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March 01, 2007

3G Americas: GSM Technologies Still Leading the Way in Mobile Telephony Industry

3G Americas, a mobile telephony industry association devoted to promoting and facilitating deployment of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) technologies, this week released a report examining market share for GSM during 2006—and looked ahead to future fortunes for the technology.
GSM, also sometimes referred to as “second generation” or 2G mobile phone technology, did quite well during 2006, 3G Americas reports. The family of technologies (which 3G Americas defines as including HSDPA and EDGE as it migrates toward 3G) grabbed the largest mobile wireless industry market share last year.
“GSM continues to be the number one mobile wireless technology in the Western Hemisphere, with nearly 310 million customers, and is the only mobile wireless technology available in every country of the region,” the 3G Americas report said.
During 2006, HSDPA services were available in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and Chile, and EDGE services were offered by 59 operators in 24 countries. Overall, 2006 figures show GSM as maintaining 56 percent market share in the Western Hemisphere.
GSM did especially well during 2006 in Latin America, particularly in Brazil (63 million users), Mexico (43 million users), Columbia (more than 25 million users) and Argentina (more than 25 million users). Subscribers in those four countries make up 75 percent of the 208 million GSM users in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“CDMA to GSM migrations in the region are likely one of the many causes for this outstanding growth,” said 3G Americas director for the Latin American and Caribbean markets, in a statement. “Also, the recent availability of low cost GSM mobile phones in the region will enable more customers to have an affordable, high quality means of communication.”
Informa Telecoms and Media analyst Eva Benguigui noted that, although GSM penetration in Latin America is reaching maturity, subscription growth predictions remain high for the next three to five years.
“According to Informa’s latest forecast, by 2010 there will be over 150 million additional GSM subscriptions and over 25 million UMTS subscriptions in Latin America,” Benguigui said in a statement.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. and Canada, 2006 year-end figures showed 19 million new GSM customers, compared with 15 million new CDMA subscribers. The overall North American growth rate for GSM during 2006 was 24 percent, compared with 12 percent growth for CDMA.
“The GSM family of technologies made significant progress on every front in 2006 including technical advancements, market growth and standards evolution,” 3G Americas president Christ Peason said in a statement. “I look forward to the continued success in 2007 and beyond.”
For those who are curious, 3G Americas’ self-proclaimed mission is: “to promote and facilitate the seamless deployment throughout the Americas of GSM and its evolution to 3G and beyond.” The organization recognize that 3G technologies are where mobile telephony is headed (albeit rather slowly in some regions), and as such supports migration strategies to EDGE and UMTS/HSPA.
3G Americas boasts some pretty big names in its membership; the organization’s board of governors includes representatives from Alcatel-Lucent, Andrew Corporation, AT&T (News - Alert), Cable & Wireless, Ericsson, Gemalto, HP, Motorola, Nortel Networks, Nokia, Openwave, Research in Motion (RIM), Rogers Wireless (Canada), T-Mobile (News - Alert) USA, Telcel (Mexico), Telefonica Internacional SA, and Texas Instruments.
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Mae Kowalke previously wrote for Cleveland Magazine in Ohio and The Burlington Free Press in Vermont. To see more of her articles, please visit Mae Kowalke’s columnist page. Also check out her Wireless Mobility blog.


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