WCDMA HSPA cellular connections are expected to reach 40 million worldwide by end of 2008, according to figures from Wireless Intelligence. By 2010, WCDMA HSPA is expected to represent around 45% of total WCDMA cellular connections, which are also on track to exceed GSM connections by 2010 in those countries where the network has been launched.
"Asia-Pacific is driving growth during the initial phase of adoption, while European operators will boost total WCDMA HSPA cellular connections from the end of 2008," says Joss Gillet, Senior Analyst at Wireless Intelligence. WCDMA HSPA is expected to increase data traffic and non-voice revenues.
WCDMA HSPA: a fast adoption cycle
WCDMA HSPA will be commercially present in more than 60 countries by the end of next year, based on announced plans. With the aim of bringing broadband speeds to mobile networks, WCDMA HSPA is a software upgrade to existing WCDMA networks typically launched from 2003. WCDMA HSPA will go through a slow adoption phase until the end of 2008. WCDMA HSPA is expected to represent around 6% of total WCDMA connections by the end of 2007 (11 million connections).
"The fastest early growth is coming from Asia-Pacific, with operators such as KTF, Telstra and NTT DoCoMo already very aggressive in migrating their installed base to the new technology," says Gillet.
At an operator group level, Vodafone Group could reach 4.5 million WCDMA HSPA cellular connections by the end of next year. T-Mobile has been focusing more on its EDGE network and is expected to be more aggressive in launching WCDMA HSPA, especially in Germany, its home market. Orange and Telefonica O2 are following the same pattern as they expand coverage in their key markets, including Eastern European countries such as Poland and Czech Republic.
Finally, from 2009, WCDMA HSPA uptake in Western and Eastern European countries will trigger a fast adoption of the technology worldwide. "In 2010, worldwide WCDMA HSPA cellular connections are expected to represent around 45% of total WCDMA connections, numbering around 278 million cellular connections," concludes Gillet.
Main assumptions: technology migration
- Handset launches - In 2006, operators were offering high-speed services mainly through HSDPA datacards. HSUPA datacards are expected to be introduced in the second half of 2007. HSDPA handsets will be more affordable from 2008, driving volume.
- Handset pricing - As WCDMA moves towards the sub-€100 ASP segment, HSDPA benefits from time and volume advantages and is expected to hit the mid tier by the end of 2008. WCDMA HSPA handsets will hit the mass market faster than the existing WCDMA handsets.
- Tariffs - Operators will differentiate by offering new services based on flat-rate tariff plans with WCDMA HSPA as one of the enablers.
- Network cost of development - WCDMA HSPA is a software upgrade to the existing WCDMA network infrastructure and is therefore not particularly costly except for backhaul.
- Network coverage - WCDMA HSPA will generally be implemented over the whole WCDMA network of an operator, starting with the most densely populated zones.
- Technology migration - We have assumed that WCDMA to WCDMA HSPA migration will follow a similar pattern to migration from CDMA2000 1X to CDMA2000 1XEV-DO.
- Exceptions - Networks in China and India have not been included in the WCDMA HSPA forecasts as operators have not yet announced any official deployment. Similarly, Russian WCDMA HSPA connections have not yet been forecasted.
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