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Finally, 3G Develops Momentum

The 3G World Congress in Hong Kong is the first large mobile event where the industry can finally say that 3G has come of age. The technology may not have been mature from day one but 3G subscriber growth has outperformed that of both first generation analogue and second generation digital networks in the four years since NTT DoCoMo launched the world's first 3G network in Japan.

According to Gavin Patterson, Analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media "By the end of June, 2005, there was a total of 43 million 3G users worldwide, and we forecast a total of 70.6 million by the end of 2005. Next year, 3G services will start to reach mass-market proportions and we are forecasting a total of 135 million 3G users by the end of 2006, rising to almost 800 million by end-2010."

Asia will also see some of the first commercial 3.5G networks in the world, with South Korea's KTF expecting to roll out HSDPA in 17 major metropolitan areas by end-2005 and expand coverage to 45 more cities by June, 2006. SK Telecom also plans to begin HSDPA services in April next year, and both operators aim to sign up about 500,000 WCDMA/HSDPA subscribers during 2006. As of 3Q05, SKT had a total of
4,400 WCDMA (Rel. 4) subs and KTF just 300.

The third Korean operator, LG Telecom, is expected to run a 1xEV-DO Revision A trial from Lucent Technologies in 2Q06, set up a commercial version in 3Q06 and launch the system by year-end.

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