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Mobile Network Sharing Can Enable 3G Everywhere

The latest global market study by ABI Research indicates that there are currently more than 500 3G network commitments, and over 300 4G WiMAX and LTE announcements worldwide.

This equates to more than two billion of the world's population being covered by high-speed wireless mobile data networks. The demand for wireless broadband data networks continues to rise across the globe.

"While many networks in U.S. and Europe are working towards complete coverage for 3G services, some mobile operators in other regions find themselves tangled up with government bureaucracy, which impedes progress in upgrading the network technology," said Neil Strother, mobile services director at ABI.

India has at last concluded its 3G spectrum auction after repeated delays; Thailand's attempt to catch up with 3G licensing has once again stalled due to reorganization of the national telecoms regulator.

ABI Research estimates that nearly 82 percent of the population in Western Europe is currently covered by 3G networks, while only about 12 percent of Asia-Pacific's population has access to 3G services.

"3G coverage in the Asia-Pacific region is set to rise dramatically in the next few years as Chinese and Indian operators such as China Unicom and Bharti Airtel begin actively rolling out new data networks," notes ABI research associate Fei Feng Seet.

Network sharing has became more common in a number of mature markets. For example, French mobile operator SFR will be sharing the rural build-out of its UMTS network with domestic rivals Orange France and Bouygues Telecom.

Meanwhile, T-mobile and Orange UK have formed a new joint venture called "Everything Everywhere" in a bid to share costs and spectrum. Mobile network sharing can provide a swift transition to increased broadband adoption, and all trailing nations would be wise to implement public policy that encourages this forward-looking business model.

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