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Global Mobile Phone Subscribers to Reach 4.5 Billion by 2012

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According to MIC (Market Intelligence Center), an ICT industry research institute based in Taipei, global mobile phone subscribers hit 3.1 billion in 2007, thanks mainly to the continuing increase of prepaid subscribers with double SIM cards and corporate clients in the US and European markets. With the global mobile phone penetration rate reaching approximately half of the global population, growth momentum of global subscribers is expected to slow down after 2008.

The CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of global mobile phone subscribers is expected to reach 7.9% during the period 2007-2012, boosting the number of global mobile phone subscribers to 4.5 billion in 2012, with penetration rate hitting 64.7%, up from 46.8% in 2007.

First-generation analog mobile phone systems will be shut down entirely by the end of 2008. TDMA system now prevailing in the Americas is switching to GSM or WCDMA system, as some mobile operators such as AT&T Mobility have implemented different roaming charges.

Along with the gradual maturity of WCDMA infrastructure and the rollout of "3G for All" promotional programs in major countries, growth of global GSM/GPRS/EDGE system subscribers is expected to slow down gradually, according to MIC Industry Analyst Eddie Tsai. Their number did grow further in 2007, thanks to emerging market demand. Mr. Tsai stated that WCDMA/HSDPA system will take over converted subscribers of GSM/GPRS/EDGE, boosting its market share to 24.7% in 2012 from 6.7% in 2007. 154 3.5G HSDPA commercial networks have been installed in 71 countries worldwide, further attracting subscribers with its mobile broadband advantage.

As mobile operators have yet to fully embrace the 3.9G UMB (Ultra Mobile Broadband) standard, CDMA2000 1x EV-DO subscribers are still expected to score a 31.9% CAGR during the period 2007-2012. However, global CDMA 2000 1x EV-DO subscribers will start to decline from 2009, due to the fact that Australian telecom operators Telstra and Hutchison decided to abandon CDMA and switch to WCDMA for cost concerns. Consequently, global CDMA subscribers are expected to reach 492 million in 2012, with a 10.9% market share.

After LTE (Long Term Evolution) was selected by the GSM Association as the next-generation mobile communications standard, major mobile operators NTT DoCoMo, Verizon Wireless, and Vodafone decided to embrace LTE, with Qualcomm's UMB lagging far behind. Apparently, the GSM system - including GSM, GPRS, EDGE, WCDMA, HSPA - has got an upper hand over UMB in the market. LTE is expected to enter commercialization in 2011. The CDMA system, including CDMA/EV-DO/UMB, will be limited due to global roaming problems.

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