Thursday, February 09, 2006

Dean Bubley: Interesting subscriber numbers in two parts

Here's a two-fer from Dean Bubley, who posts twice at his Disruptive Wireless blog about recent subscriber numbers he finds interesting. First he looks at subscription numbers from BT Fusion, which stated "the total number of Fusion customers to over 13,000." Bubley suspects "this means subscribers rather than households - from a recent BT presentation I heard there are typically 1-point-something phones per Fusion hub. Let's say around 9-10,000 Fusion households."

Bubley predicts that "given the WiFi launch, enterprise/SME Fusion and BT's general presence and marketing clout in UK mobility, I reckon by end-2006 (calendar, not BT FY) we'll be at about 70,000 Bluetooth Fusion users and maybe 140,000 WiFi-UMA ones, if they get the marketing packaging right."

Bubley concludes:

I'm quite happy keeping my June 2005-vintage forecast for UMA-based VoWLAN phone shipments in 2006 at about 600,000 globally, working on the assumption that US operator(s) launch in H2, and maybe a couple of other operators do some low-key soft introductions in Europe or Asia. There's possibly some upside here, if someone comes out with an ultra-aggressive package; subsidies (T-Mobile US?), but I'd be surprised to see more than a million leave the shelves under any realistic scenario.
Next Bubley tackles some recent numbers issued by the GSA and 3G Americas, which report there are now around 50m WCDMA subscribers. He questions that:
There's some rather dodgy-seeming maths (or at least over-zealous PR spin) from the GSA, though, saying that "3G/WCDMA Takes 30% Share in Western Europe" ... which seems to stem from the (fairly independent, in my view) numbers of total net subscriber additions in Europe (about 44m) and the total number of new 3G subscribers (13.9m).
He then asks if this "doesn't that imply that all these 13.9m people were "net additions", rather than people simply upgrading (or churning) from their previous 2G service & handset?" Bubley concludes that he'd "be pretty surprised if more than 5-10% of completely-new arrivals to the cellular market chose to jump straight to 3G, especially as most newcomers will be on prepay tariffs unlikely to be available on 3G phones."