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Latin America 3G Mobile Phone Data Service

Latin American mobile operators are promoting new data services in order to offset falling voice revenues and satisfy the growing demand for value-added products. That helped make 2008 the year of 3G in Latin America, where virtually every Latin American mobile operator launched 3G services.

There were more than 6.8 million active WCDMA connections across Latin America at end March 2009, up 50 percent in just one quarter. Possibly the most striking growth of all has been in Brazil, where there were 3.8 million WCDMA subscriptions at end-March 2009, up from 2.2 million three months earlier.

"We can expect that number to continue to accelerate, because America Movil has made it clear that its investment priority in the region for 2009 concerns its 3G network," said Eva Benguigui, Senior Research Analyst at Informa.

Informa expects investments in 3G networks will accelerate across Latin America. For instance, there will be more than 15 million WCDMA subscriptions in Latin America at end-2009 -- or less than 3 percent of the total 522 million mobile subscriptions in the region.

However, WCDMA subscriptions will grow to 320 million at end 2014, or 46 percent of the region's 689 million total mobile subscriptions at that time.

"As more high-speed mobile networks are deployed and customers gain access to a wider variety of compatible devices, value-added data services will become increasingly important to mobile operator bottom lines," said Tammy Parker, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

While the region's operators are focused primarily on 3G today, mobile broadband technologies such as HSPA, HSPA+ and LTE will be on their technology migration paths as they continue to expand next-generation services in order to offset falling voice revenues with higher data revenues.

However, LTE deployments in Latin America are expected to be a challenge since spectrum is congested in many areas. In Latin America, spectrum caps on operators and an overall lack of suitable spectrum for wireless broadband threatens to hold back mobile broadband deployment in some markets.

Nonetheless, operators across the Americas are expected to continue aggressively rolling out mobile broadband networks over the coming years where they have adequate spectrum availability, graduating from today's 3G and 3.5G networks to faster offerings promised by LTE and, in some cases, WiMAX.

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