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8 out of 10 Cell Phone Customers Choose GSM Service

By Vicki Livingston / 3G Americas
November 15, 2005

BELLEVUE, Wash., Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Wireless industry trade association 3G Americas reports that the GSM family of wireless technologies -- GSM, GPRS, EDGE and UMTS/HSDPA -- added more than 112 million new customers in three months (Q3 2005), increasing its global market share to 77.6% with more than 1.6 billion customers.

"The continuing growth of the GSM family of technologies is unprecedented, and not only in the wireless industry," commented Chris Pearson, of 3G Americas. "It was decades before fixed phone lines or even televisions reached more than a billion units sold, while more than 1.6 billion GSM-family customers are talking on cell phones today since the first GSM network launched in 1992. Now we are seeing a surge in next generation applications, and even more uses for the wireless mobile device including email, music, Internet browsing, and also mobile television."

With 381 million customer additions since Q3 2004, GSM added more new customers in the one-year period than the entire customer base of any other mobile digital technology. The GSM family of technologies is used by more than 670 mobile wireless service providers in 212 countries and territories, which clearly indicates that no other wireless technology matches GSM's scope and scale.

The Western Hemisphere continues to experience healthy GSM growth with more than 84.5 million new GSM customers between Q3 2004 and Q3 2005. This represents 94% of the more than 90 million net customer additions in the Americas region. With a 41% market share in the Americas, GSM is the number one technology in the region with an annual growth rate of 90%, which is more than three and a half times CDMA's growth rate.

Pearson added, "The Americas region has led the way for CDMA and TDMA operators transitioning to the GSM family of technologies. That trend continues in other parts of the world, such as the recent report by Telstra of Australia that they are replacing their CDMA mobile network with a national 3G GSM (UMTS) network."

"In Latin America and the Caribbean, GSM continues to lead the marketplace by providing excellent solutions for customers -- quality, coverage, handset selection and exciting new services and features," stated Erasmo Rojas, Director of Latin America and the Caribbean. "A look at the statistics wholly supports this fact: GSM gained more than 58 million new customers for a 127% annual growth-three times the growth rate of CDMA at 41%."

GSM holds a 47% market share in the Latin American region, followed by TDMA with 26% and CDMA with 24.7%. The top five GSM markets in the region as of September 2005 were Brazil with 38.1 million GSM customers, followed by Mexico (22.6 million), Colombia (10.8 million), Argentina (7.5 million) and Chile (6.1 million).

In the United States and Canada, the new customers added for GSM over a one-year period through Q3 2005 totaled 26 million versus the market leader, CDMA, which added 14.9 million new customers.

The continued growth of GSM is contributing to the proliferation of EDGE and UMTS (WCDMA) high-speed wireless voice and data services. More than 100 operators in 65 countries have launched commercial EDGE networks, with another 83 networks in various deployment stages. These operators represent more than 870 million customers within their current subscriber base. Additionally, UMTS is demonstrating even more growth than GSM at the same point of maturation. At the end of Q3 2004, there were 11 million UMTS customers worldwide, nearly 17 million at the start of this year, and UMTS customers have more than doubled to nearly 35 million at the end of Q3 2005 compared to more than 17 million CDMA 1xEV-DO according to the UMTS Forum (as of September 6). To date, there are 92 operators offering commercial UMTS service around the world, with another 70 operators either pre-commercial, in deployment, or with planned UMTS networks. This makes UMTS the leading 3G technology today based on the number of operators, the number of customers and the anticipated market potential due to operator commitments.

UMTS will be further enhanced with HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) to deliver even higher speeds, lower latency, greater spectral capacity and lower costs for operators and their customers. The first UMTS/HSDPA deployments occurred in October 2005 with Cingular Wireless activating its HSDPA network in Dallas, Phoenix and Seattle, followed by O2/Manx Telecom on the Isle of Man. To date, another 46 HSDPA networks are planned or in deployment with additional ongoing trials.

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' website: www.3gamericas.org/English/statistics/index.cfm.

About 3G Americas: Unifying the Americas Through Wireless Technology

The mission of 3G Americas is to promote and facilitate the seamless deployment throughout the Americas of GSM and its evolution to 3G and beyond. The organization fully supports the Third Generation technology migration strategy to EDGE and UMTS/HSDPA adopted by many operators in the Americas, which is expected to account for up to 85 percent of next-generation customers worldwide. 3G Americas is headquartered in Bellevue, WA, with an office for Latin America and the Caribbean located in Dallas, TX. For more information, visit: www.3gamericas.org.