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GSM, CDMA lobby groups tout adoption numbers for '03

COSTA MESA, Calif.-Both GSM and CDMA advocacy bodies are beating their chest over their 2003 worldwide adoption numbers, but the figures released by the Global Mobile Suppliers Association bests those of the CDMA Development Group. However, the CDG has the advantage in the number of next-generation service adopters.

For the whole year, the GSA said it added more than 198 million new subscribers to bring its worldwide customers to almost 990 million. On the other hand, the CDG said its subscriber base grew by more than 42 million users, lifting the worldwide numbers to 188 million users.

For the third quarter of 2003, CDMA users grew by a record 14.5 million users, according to the CDG. The GSA did not reveal its quarterly numbers, but claimed its subscribers grew by a monthly average of 16.5 million customers.

“The growth of GSM over the past years continues to be spectacular,” said Alan Hadden, president of the GSA. “Handset sales growth was impressive, especially in the second half, with dozens of new models coming on to the market packed with exciting user and revenue-driving features.”

The CDG claims that it is enjoying third-generation traction with more than 10.7 million new users of the CDMA2000 in the third quarter of 2003, raising the overall adoption to 75.4 million users worldwide, representing 97 percent of all 3G subscribers.

This trumps the Wideband CDMA adoption numbers revealed by the GSA, with 2.8 million subscribers from 13 networks already offering commercial services and 15 networks in pre-commercial phase.

“The spectral efficiencies and high-speed data capabilities of CDMA2000 allow carriers to offer affordable voice services and introduce advanced applications that in turn stimulate demand for wireless services and enable them to capture larger market share,” said Perry LaForge, executive director of the CDG.

CDMA2000 enjoys deployments in 85 commercial networks in 40 countries on six continents, said the CDG. Asia Pacific takes the lead in the uptake, especially in China and India.

The GSA anticipates strong traction with EDGE technology, adding, “most GSM operators came to appreciate the complementary attributes of GSM/EDGE and WCDMA as the most efficient and flexible approach to 3G.”

The GSA expects to enjoy a great boost to its numbers as third-generation services gain credence in the market. It claims that 246 million new digital subscribers added in 2003, which brought the number of mobile-phone users to 1.38 billion. GSM accounts for 80.5 percent of that number, said the GSA.

Hadden said the number shows GSM “is greater than the entire cumulative subscriber base of the next biggest digital standard,” adding that the figures “again clearly prove GSM subscribers is the global wireless technology.”

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