3G 'Comes of Age'

David Murphy

On the eve of the 3G World Congress in Hong Kong, which runs from 16 - 18 November, media and telecoms business strategist Informa Telecoms & Media has released figures  showing that worldwide, there will be over 70 million 3G subscribers by the end of the year, with the figure predicted to almost double by the end of 2006, and rising 10-fold by the end of 2010.

The company describes the Congress as: "The first large  mobile event where the industry can finally say that 3G has come of age."  Informa Principal Analyst Gavin Patterson adds:

"By the end of June, 2005, there were a total of 43 million 3G users worldwide, and we forecast a total of 70.6 million by the end of 2005.  Next year, 3G services will start to reach mass-market proportions and we are forecasting a total of 135 million 3G users by the end of 2006, rising to almost 800 million by end-2010."

The company also reports that Asia will see some of the first commercial 3.5G networks in the world, with South Korea's KTF expecting to roll out HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) in 17 major metropolitan areas by the end of the year, and expanding coverage to 45 more cities by June, 2006. SK Telecom also plans to begin HSDPA services in April next year, with both operators aiming to sign up about 500,000  WCDMA/HSDPA subscribers during 2006. As of 3Q05, SKT had a total of 4,400 WCDMA subscribers, while KTF had just 300.

3G Subscriber Forecasts (millions):

2005 - 70.57

2006 - 134.85

2007 - 230.66

2008-  379.24

2009 - 575.61

2010 - 797.27

Source: Informa Telecoms & Media