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Over 100 Million WCDMA Subs in Europe

European WCDMA subscriptions passed the 100 million mark in May 2008, just over five years after the region's first commercial WCDMA-network launch, according to a market study by Informa Telecoms & Media.

At the end of May 2008, Informa says there were 101.5 million WCDMA subscriptions in Europe -- out of a total of 910.8 million mobile subscriptions -- taking WCDMA penetration to 11.1 percent of subscriptions.

Penetration of WCDMA is generally highest in markets where the technology was launched earliest. Italy became the first market in Europe to offer WCDMA devices when 3 Italia launched services in March 2003. The country now accounts for a quarter of Europe's WCDMA subscriptions and has one of the highest 3G penetration rates, with 28.7 percent of subscriptions via WCDMA devices.

Other markets where greenfield operator 3 launched in 1H03 also have high 3G penetration rates, notably Austria, Sweden and the UK.

WCDMA-device sales in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) have to date been far lower than in Western Europe. WCDMA subscriptions totalled just 7.8 million, or 1.9 percent of the total, according to Informa's market data.

As a result, Slovenia and Georgia are the only markets in CEE where penetration of WCDMA has exceeded 10 percent of total subscriptions. As the cost of WCDMA devices falls worldwide, Informa forecasts that the CEE region will reach 10 percent WCDMA penetration by early 2011.

A slight slowdown in the growth in WCDMA handset sales in Western Europe in 1Q08 was counteracted by an acceleration in sales of WCDMA/HSPA datacards and modems, which boosted the size of the total 3G market, particularly in Sweden and Austria.

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