50 million 3G subscribers in Asia Pacific Region

W-CDMA was the fastest growing technology in the Asia Pacific region by customer numbers in 2006, as the base using the GSM-derivative 3G standard grew in size by 97% from 24.7m to 48.7m during the year. GSM customers (excluding W-CDMA) grew in number by 29.8% to reach 815m at the end of December 2006. The two technologies in the GSM family together enjoyed customer growth of 32.3%, trumping the CDMA family whose own variants recorded customer growth of 28.4% in aggregate to reach a total of 150.8m.
Given that customer growth in Asia Pacific as a whole was 28.0% in 2006, the result was that CDMA maintained its share of 14.4% of the customer market in the region in 2006. The proportion of the total accounted for by GSM customers saw a marginal increase from 76.8% to 77.9%, whilst W-CDMA customers made up 4.7% of the total at the end of 2006 versus 3.0% at the end of 2005. Giving the slack was largely the Japanese proprietary PDC technology, whose customer base declined 32.7% during the year, although customers of the continent's remaining AMPS, TDMA and other analogue networks also declined, from 0.15% to 0.06% of the total over the period.

Whilst W-CDMA 3G customers stood on the brink of 50m at the end of 2006, 78% of the total was accounted for by Japan alone. Whilst this is an improvement on the 91% registered at the end of 2005, there were still only just over 10m 3G customers in the total base of over 950m mobile customers in Asia Pacific outside of Japan.
Far more numerous were 3G CDMA customers, who numbered 131m at the end of 2006.
What's more only 19% of these customers resided in Japan, meaning that 3G customers using CDMA technology outside of Japan were more than ten times as numerous as their W-CDMA counterparts at the end of 2006. Of course, such claims depend on including CDMA2000 1x variants in our definition of "3G" here, which some argue is incorrect. If we were to exclude this technology and only include customers of the later CDMA2000 1x EV-DO variant, we find on this definition that there were only 28.8m 3G customers using CDMA technology at the end of 2006, of which 12.5m or 43% were in Japan. Of course the reason for the low 3G penetration, by any standard, is that the technology has not yet been launched in many of Asia Pacific's major markets.

However, 2007 should see developments in this area in both China and India, as well as the first full year of 3G service in Indonesia. The chart below shows the development of 3G customers in Asia Pacific so far.

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