Third generation mobile technologies accounted for their highest ever share of net additions in Middle East & Africa in Q4 2007 with 9.8% of the total - up very slightly on the 9.7% registered in Q3 2007. The trend in MEA so far shows that 3G additions in the fourth quarter of the year are generally weaker as a proportion of the total, following the pattern established in Europe. This may be due to the fact that fourth quarter sales tend to be driven by the Christmas market (and to some extent the Ramadan market, as some of the Ramadan period tends to fall in October) which generally involves the sale of lower-value cards and handsets, often as gifts.
% net additions W-CDMA, Q4 04 - Q4 07
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However, after a decline in the proportion of net additions accounted for by 3G between the third and fourth quarters of both 2005 and 2006, the market became sufficiently strong in 2007 to avoid a repeat performance.
In absolute terms 3G customer numbers exceeded 20m in MEA at the end of 2007, with over 12m W-CDMA connections and over 8m CDMA2000 lines. For those who prefer a stricter definition of "3G", EV-DO customers crept over the 1m mark in later December, bringing the total on this basis to around 13.2m.
The vast majority of customers in MEA use GSM technology, although the percentage of the total base accounted for by GSM slipped below 95% for the first time in four years. At the end of 2003, 2.2pp of the 5pp remainder was accounted for by analogue networks, 2.4pp by CDMA and 0.3pp by iDEN. At the end of 2007, the handful of remaining analogue services contributed just 0.03% of the overall total, iDEN just 0.18% and CDMA 2.1%, whilst the largest part of the remainder was accounted for by W-CDMA with 3.1% of the total.
Bundling this together with GSM, we find that the GSM family maintained a 97.67% share of the market between the third and fourth quarters of 2007, although it lost 0.11pp of share over the 12 months to 31st December due to the fact that the CDMA connection base grew faster, by 56.1% to the GSM family's 41.1%.
Non GSM/W-CDMA Customers, by Technology
Source: Cellular News.