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CDMA Operators Continue Sunk Investment

Although the overall dynamics of CDMA markets are overshadowed by progress around UMTS/HSPA and the migration to LTE, CDMA operators continue to upgrade their networks to provide capacity for higher numbers of bandwidth-intensive data services.

"Worldwide EVDO Rev A subscriber numbers ramped up more than eightfold between Q2 2007 and Q2 2008," says ABI Research analyst Khor Hwai Lin.

"The U.S. and South Korean markets shows the highest growth rate for EVDO Rev A. The increased support for LTE from incumbent CDMA operators does not imply the imminent death of EVDO Rev A and B, because LTE is addressing different market needs compared to 3G."

EVDO Rev A subscribers are forecast to exceed 54 million by 2013 while Rev B subscribers will also increase, to 25 million.

More than 31 million subscribers worldwide are already using HSDPA while 3.2 million subscribers were on HSUPA networks by Q2 2008. Upgrades to HSUPA continue to take place aggressively around Western Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Hence, HSUPA subscribers are estimated to reach around 139 million in number by 2013.

"HSPA+ will contest with LTE and mobile WiMAX in the mobile broadband space," adds Asia-Pacific vice president Jake Saunders. The 100Mbps download data rate difference between LTE (20MHz) and HSPA+ may not attract mid-tier operators to migrate, as LTE is based on OFDM technology that requires new components, while a move to HSPA+ is perceived to be more gradual transition."

Due to the large number of GSM 900 subscribers worldwide and the high possibility of refarming the spectrum for UMTS, ABI Research estimates that the majority of these subscribers worldwide (about 1.2 billion by 2013) will be on a 900MHz-only band.

In second place would be dual-band users on 900MHz and 1800MHz (one billion by 2013). 2100MHz subscriber numbers are forecast to ramp up steadily with a CAGR of 23.5 percent between 2007 and 2013.

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