Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Jupiter: EMEA 3G Reality

Thomas Husson posts his state of the 3G union address at the Jupiter Analyst Weblogs. Husson cites stats from the GSA – the Global mobile Suppliers Association - that "the total number of 3G/UMTS networks passed the 100m mark (in 42 countries)" and is fuelled by WCDMA networks.

According to Husson, "JupiterResearch estimates Western Europe at the end of June 2005 had 12 million 3G phone owners, which represents less than four percent of the total European mobile population." He then notes that "Western Europe represents roughly 40 percent of the WCDMA market, and 20 percent of the worldwide 3G market."

Husson compares this with the uptake in Japan which has "33 million 3G phone owners, a significant 37 percent of its mobile population." However, Husson points out that 3G networks were introduced in Japan in 2001 and opines that "it will take some time before critical mass is reached in Europe."

Leading the way in Europe is 3, which alone represents 66 percent of the European 3G market, and Vodafone. The two companies combined "have an 80 percent market share!" Husson states that the "migration to 3G is accelerating" with network operators probably benefiting from the year-end period. He concludes:

More interestingly, several operators have released figures on their average revenue per user (ARPU). For example, Vodafone live!'s ARPU is 24 percent greater for a 3G customer than it is for a 2.5G customer. Now the question is to how large will the inevitable dilution effect be as 3G penetration moves beyond the early-adopter market.
Good question. Over here on this side of the pond, Sprint has already lowered price barriers for their EVDO network with its $15 a month all you can eat data plan. Hard to see how Verizon and Cingular will be able to keep their plans at $45+ a month for long. Has the cost for high-speed 3G data networks already been commoditized?