GSM technology on the rise in Latin America

Use of GSM technology in mobile telephony is growing more quickly in Latin America than in any other region in the world. The number of handsets using the system reached 29 million in March 2004, an increase of 190% in one year. Over the same period, worldwide growth was 26%. Erasmo Rojas, director of 3G Americas for Latin America and the Caribbean, said that by the end of 2004, GSM would overtake CDMA technology in the region. 3G Americas is a grouping of operators, manufacturers and software developers created to stimulate use of GSM in the Americas.

In Brazil, the GSM standard is used by operators TIM, Claro and Oi. Vivo, the country’s biggest mobile operator, uses CDMA, which grew by 29% in 2003 in Latin America. The region continues to be dominated by TDMA (70 million handsets), which is expected to disappear. Rojas said the main advantage of GSM was its cost. “As it offers larger scale, it allows manufacturers to make cheaper handsets,” he said. “The simplest GSM models cost 20% less than the equivalent CDMA models, a significant difference when the strategy of operators in the region is to increase their customer base among lower-income groups.”

According to Anatel, the Brazilian industry regulator, in May 2004 there were 11.1 million GSM users in Brazil, following growth of 307.6% in 12 months. Mobile customers using all standards in Brazil increased by 67% in a year, to 52.4 million. Of the total, 78.8% use pre-paid accounts.

(Valor Econômico/IB – 22.6.2004)