GSM gets its groove on… maybe

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With the 3G GSM Congress this week, the torrent of GSM news is not surprising. However, this indeed is an amazing if slightly over the top bit of information. According to a press release, 3G Americas reports 100% annual growth for GSM in 2003. This translates into GSM having the largest percentage gain of any wireless technology in the Western Hemisphere. The rapid deployment of GSM/GPRS on a nationwide basis in Canada and the U.S. contributed to GSM’s 77% growth in the North American market in 2003. Fifty two new GSM networks were launched in the Americas in the past year, the release claims. Additionally, since mid-2001, 40 TDMA operators in the region began their GSM migrations and in 2003 four CDMA operators switched over to the GSM migration route.

Bottomline: I think this data is skewed toward non-US markets. If you look at the defections from AT&T Wireless and Cingular towards CDMA-powered Verizon Wireless and i-Den-based Nextel, these GSM claims sound hollow.

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Jack Barse

Their press release is a bit overhyped. :-) The reality is that GSM in the Americas still has fewer than half the number of subscribers (52M) as both TDMA (106M) and CDMA (105M). And subscriber growth in Latin America (12.62M) nearly equalled growth in North America (13.51M).

I expect GSM’s growth to come at the expense of TDMA, not CDMA, though. For example, Cingular will probably hasten AT&T’s migration as well as their own. The faster they can get on one platform the faster they’ll start benefitting from the economy of scale.

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