With a 121% increase in customers from June 2002 to June 2003, GSM has the highest annual growth of any wireless technology in Latin America and the Caribbean according to EMC World Cellular Database. Five years ago, GSM was operating in only four countries in the region and has rapidly extended to 36 countries today, making it the fastest growing technology. There are currently 66 GSM wireless networks operating in the region.
So far, some 32 TDMA operators in Latin America and the Caribbean have chosen to migrate to GSM, while only six have migrated to CDMA technology.
According to the Director of Latin America and the Caribbean for 3G Americas, “The GSM/GPRS/EDGE migration path has proven to be the best technical and business choice for both new operators and existing TDMA operators evolving to 3G networks and will support the many consumer and corporate wireless data applications available with the GSM technology. The 66 Latin American and Caribbean operators supporting the de-facto standard GSM have the advantage of capitalizing on GSM’s global footprint and 72% market share by providing their customers roaming coverage throughout the Americas, Europe and the rest of the world.”
GSM first entered the Latin American market in 1998 in Chile with the majority of new GSM operators entering the market in the past few years. GSM is expected to emerge as the most popular wireless standard in Latin America and the Caribbean by the end of 2005 with more subscribers than CDMA, according to Pyramid Research. In the past three years, GSM has caught up with CDMA in Latin America and the Caribbean in terms of number of operators and network deployments.
GSM’s success is clearly demonstrated in Brazil and Mexico, the two largest markets in Latin America.
In Brazil, the largest market in the region, nine of the 12 TDMA operators who have announced a migration strategy have selected GSM technology. GSM accounted for a 27% market share of new Brazilian subscribers in 2002 and new customer share doubled to 54% by March 2003. According to Brazil’s telecom regulator Anatel, CDMA operators in Brazil lost nearly 55,000 customers during May and June of 2003.
In Mexico, significant changes have occurred over the past year. Telefonica Movil (MoviStar) recently initiated a transition from CDMA to GSM in order to become competitive in the market. Mexico’s Grupo Iusacell’s CDMA network reported a decline in its subscriber base of 11% over the last year, in strong contrast to Telcel, which reported a 13% increase in subscribers during the same period. Telcel launched its GSM network in October 2002 and has exceeded expectations in new GSM customer growth.
Latin America – Wireless Communications;
Brazil – Wireless Communications – Key Players;
Brazil – Wireless Communications – Market Overview;
Mexico – Wireless Communications.
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