Research from the Wireless World Forum has forecast that global 3G subscribers will grow from around 45 million at the end of 2004 to 85 million a year later. The group’s ‘3G Trends Analysis’ report says that next-generation services have been a massive success in Japan and South Korea largely because operators have migrated seamlessly between 2G/2.5G networks and the new 3G systems. Existing voice and data services have been maintained and developed while new 3G applications have been added to operators’ portfolios.
In Europe, meanwhile, operators such as Three have failed to attract large numbers of customers; European 3G penetration levels currently stand at around 1%-2% compared to more than 15% in Japan. The report suggests that this is because mobile users are not yet ready to ditch low cost voice calls in favour of advanced data services. The Wireless World Forum claims that 3G take-up levels in North America could overtake those in Europe if operators there adopt seamless migration strategies.