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Global 3G connections grew by around 60 million in the third-quarter and now account for 20 percent of total global mobile connections, up from around 18 percent a year ago. According to the forthcoming Quarterly World Review: Q3 2009 by Wireless Intelligence, global 3G connections are now evenly split between CDMA2000- and WCDMA- based technologies, each accounting for around 10 percent of total connections. Total 3G connections grew 28 percent year-on-year to reach 888.8 million.

WCDMA-based connections are growing at a much faster rate than CDMA2000. The report found that combined WCDMA and WCDMA-HSPA connections grew by 58 percent in the year to 3Q09, compared to 8 percent growth for CDMA2000-based connections over the same period. WCDMA-HSPA also recorded the highest net additions in the quarter, adding 25 million to reach 158 million global connections in total, more than doubling its connections base from a year ago. 

Asia-Pacific and Western Europe continued to account for the majority of global WCDMA (Family) connections, accounting for 75 percent of the total. The five largest individual operators in this segment were NTT Docomo (Japan), AT&T (USA), SoftBank (Japan) SK Telecom (South Korea) and Vodafone Italy. CDMA2000-based connections were concentrated in the USA and India, which accounted for over 50 percent of the CDMA2000 total. The top five CDMA2000-based operators were Verizon Wireless (USA), Reliance (India), China Telecom (China), Tata Teleservices (India) and Sprint Nextel (USA). TD-SCDMA – the home-grown Chinese 3G standard being deployed by China Mobile – reached 1.7 million connections in 3Q09. China Mobile’s new network was soft-launched a year ago and is currently being rolled out across the country. Rival operators China Unicom and China Telecom are deploying rival 3G networks on different network standards, WCDMA and CDMA2000, respectively.

The study found that total mobile connections reached 4.5 billion by the end of 3Q09 with GSM accounting for 79 percent. The share of GSM connections was down 2 percentage points from a year ago, due primarily to the strong growth in 3G technologies.

Significant milestones in the quarter included the Asia-Pacific region surpassing 2 billion connections after recording year-on-year growth of 22 percent. Growth in the region was driven by the world’s two largest mobile markets – China and India – which grew total connections by 15 percent (to 698 million) and 49 percent (to 472 million), respectively, accounting for over half of the Asia-Pacific total. Asia-Pacific now accounts for 45 percent of total global mobile connections, followed by Western Europe (11 percent), the Americas (11 percent), Eastern Europe (11 percent), Africa (10 percent), USA/Canada (7 percent) and the Middle East (6 percent). 

One of the fastest-growing markets in the year to 3Q09 was Rwanda, which grew its connection base by over 120 percent year-on-year. Other major growth markets included Cambodia (up 80 percent year-on-year), Zimbabwe (up 58 percent), Vietnam (up 57 percent) and Sudan (up 57 percent).

New mobile network launches in the quarter included Beeline (Vietnam), Vodafone Qatar (Qatar), 2degrees (New Zealand), Digicel (Nauru), Hello Nepal (Nepal) and I-Tel (Uganda).


This article is a preview extract from the Wireless Intelligence ‘Quarterly World Review: Q3 2009’, scheduled for publication in January 2010. Please contact us at [email protected] for further information