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GSM Market Share in Americas Exceeds 50 Percent, Says Group

GSM/UMTS global dominance mirrored in Americas region

by / August 31, 2006
3G Americas reported today that GSM technology has taken more than 50 percent of the market share in the Americas region, adding nearly 100 million new customers from June 2005 to June 2006. At the end of 2Q 2006, 2 billion of the world's 2.41 billion cellular subscribers used GSM/UMTS. Informa's World Cellular Information Service projects 3 billion GSM/UMTS customers by 2009, with 551 million of these subscribers using UMTS services.

The traction of GSM is indisputable as market share continues to grow, said 3G Americas in a release. At 2Q 2005, GSM held 38 percent of the Americas market, having just taken its place as the #1 wireless mobile technology in the region. Twelve months later, that market share has grown to 51 percent, and in several key countries the market shares are even more impressive.

Some operators are transitioning their CDMA networks to GSM to take advantage of GSM's global roaming capabilities, technical evolution strategy, and economies of scale. These are the significant factors contributing to the massive uptake of GSM across Latin America and the Caribbean where it now represents 63 percent of the overall wireless mobile market, versus 22 percent for CDMA technologies.

Erasmo Rojas, 3G Americas' Director of Latin America and the Caribbean, remarked, "The benefits of GSM technology for the Latin American market are the strengths of the global GSM eco-system, such as open standards, commercial availability in every single country of the region, and greater variety and lower cost of handsets. GSM has overtaken all other wireless technologies and is the consumer's number one choice." He added, "Brazil alone added 21 million new GSM customers in the year ending June 2006. GSM represents more than 57 percent of the Brazilian wireless mobile market. As CDMA technology growth loses its momentum in Brazil and across the Americas region, one can clearly see why operators, such as Brazil's market leader VIVO, are choosing to deploy GSM."

GSM in Argentina added 12 million new GSM customers from June 2005 to June 2006, and now holds a market share of 77 percent, compared to CDMA and TDMA at 11 percent and 10 percent, respectively. GSM in Colombia added 14 million new GSM customers from June 2005 to June 2006, with a current market share of 80 percent, compared to CDMA and TDMA at 10 percent each. In Mexico, where 16 million new GSM subscriptions in one year have contributed to an almost 78 percent growth rate, GSM has captured 71 percent of market share, up from 48 percent only one year ago. This compares to a share of 18.5 percent for TDMA and 7 percent for CDMA.

GSM Worldwide: In the 12 months from Q2 2005 to Q2 2006, the GSM family of technologies gained nearly 500 million new customers worldwide, including 41 million new UMTS 3G customers. This number represents more than 10 times the growth of CDMA, which added 45 million new customers. GSM again added more new customers in a year than the total subscriber base of all other mobile digital technologies. In June 2006, the industry milestone of 2 billion GSM subscriptions worldwide was reached, including subscriptions to UMTS at 70 million, and in the past year, new GSM subscriptions accounted for more than 90 percent of all net new digital wireless customers.

Mobile Broadband and Wireless Data: Mobile broadband UMTS/HSDPA, the leading industry standard for the delivery of 3G voice and data service chosen by 111 operators in 54 countries today, is a GSM technology that is truly making its mark. With 45 networks in service in 32 countries and another 66 networks planned, in deployment, or in trial, 3G Americas' President, Chris Pearson, stated, "2006 is the year for HSDPA. Only one year ago there were no commercial networks in play, and today you have more than 70 million customers using GSM for mobile broadband. Expect to see nearly all of the 289 operators publicly committed to deploying UMTS execute HSDPA on their networks, thereby achieving the best possible use of their spectrum assets, the lowest cost per bit of data and a wide variety in devices and applications for their customers."

Currently, UMTS/HSDPA is the only cellular technology that offers high speed simultaneous voice and data transmission services, and is the global technology choice for mobile broadband services.

EDGE high-speed wireless data technology is contributing to wireless data usage in the Americas region with 44 operators in 20 countries currently offering commercial EDGE services. Although voice still constitutes most cellular traffic, wireless data now exceeds 10 percent of Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), and this number could easily double within three years. Operators across the Americas are confirming this trend with their reports of rising data ARPU. For instance, for the second quarter of 2006, Cingular Wireless reported ARPU from data services rose 38 percent to $5.77 per month. T-Mobile reported data ARPU represented 10.9 percent of blended ARPU in the second quarter of 2006, as compared to 10.1 percent in the first quarter of 2006, and 7.5 percent in the second quarter of 2005. Rogers Wireless of Canada reported a 65.1 percent lift in data revenues, representing 10.5 percent of the total network revenue of the quarter. Now commercial on a total of 157 operators' networks in 91 countries, EDGE is routinely included in 3G wireless devices to enable global roaming for GSM/UMTS customers worldwide. At this time, there are 238 operators worldwide committed to deploying EDGE services.
Data is based on figures from Informa Telecoms & Media World Cellular Information Service (WCIS). Detailed charts on GSM growth as well as EDGE and UMTS deployment lists are available at 3G Americas' Web site.

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