Third generation connection numbers in Europe grew by a record 11.2m in Q4 2007 to reach 81.5m by the end of the 2007 - an 81% improvement year on year. New W-CDMA connections accounted for 45% of net connection growth in the final quarter, which was the lowest proportion for the year, after 46.9% in Q1, 56.5% in Q2 and 46.8% in Q3.
Given the extent to which the fourth quarter Christmas boom is driven by the lower-cost and prepaid market, however, this is not a surprising result. It was GSM, of course, which was dominant in terms of net additions, with 13.8m in Q4 2007, giving it a total of 39.3m for the full year, against 36.5m for its 3G derivative.
Nevertheless, proportionately speaking the growth in the GSM base only amounted to 6.5% for the year, which led to a strengthening of the contribution of the 3G base to the total. At the end of 2006, W-CDMA customers accounted for 6.9% of all European mobile connections; at the end of 2007, the proportion of the total made up of 3G enabled connections had risen to 11.2% - with 1.2pp of the increase (the highest ever) coming in the fourth quarter.
Europe: % Customers W-CDMA, Q4 02 - Q4 07
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The proportion of customers outside of the GSM/W-CDMA family remained extremely small at the end of 2007, but it did increase marginally over the course of the year.
The growth rate for Europe’s CDMA base amounted to 26.1% in the 12 months to 31st December 2007, taking the total over 1m in the third quarter to end the year at 1.12m. Offsetting this to a small extent was a 23% decline in the size of the legacy analogue base, although this amounted to less than 50k customers in absolute terms. The result was an increase in the proportion of the total European base made up of CDMA and other customers from 0.168% at the end of 2006 to 0.176% a year later. The vast majority of the CDMA connections were of the 1x or 1x EV-DO variety at the end of the year, which when included took the 3G total to over 82.5m.
Source: Cellular News.