GPRS still playing catch-up – Stat Snap – Brief Article
GSM may dominate the planet when it comes to mobile subscriber numbers, but not when you include packet-based wireless data services. The latest figures from EMC World Cellular Data Metrics, released last month, put the number of worldwide GPRS subscribers at 14.3 million in the first quarter of 2003 and a projected 22.5 million for the following quarter. Compared to 2.5 million GPRS subs in September 2002, it’s a vast improvement, but compared to cdma2000 1x-46.4 million as of 31 May, over half of them in Korea and Japan–it’s still behind the curve, especially considering that there are only 41 commercial 1x networks in operation, compared to 162 commercial GPRS services as of mid-June. (And the majority of 1x systems don’t even bother to report subscriber numbers, according to CDMA stat Web site 3G Today, though whether that’s for reasons of competitive strategy or embarrassment remains a mystery for now.)
That said, GPRS take-up is noticeably being bolstered by MMS rollouts, which only began appearing in earnest last year, and have also been growing in number–135 launches as of the end of June. Newer MMS-capable handset models have helped as well.
EMC research analyst Kester Mann says that with most European cellcos already in the GPRS business, the key driver for the rest of 2003 will be emerging markets in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America, which could push the GPRS service count past the 200 mark by the end of the year.
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