Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

Global wireless growth slows as penetration hits 19%

NEW YORK-Carriers worldwide acquired about 54.7 million new subscribers last quarter, down 5.9 percent from the same period of 2001, bringing the total to nearly 1.132 billion and penetration to 19 percent, reported FastTrack Wireless, a New York-based market forecasting firm. Globally, net additions for the year were 173 million, down from 228 million in 2001, “as the economic slump and industry saturation took their toll,” the consulting firm said.Last year, almost 75 percent of net customer additions came from outside of Western Europe and North America. Asia-Pacific countries, excluding Japan and South Korea, had the strongest growth rate of 35 percent, followed by Eastern Europe at 34 percent, and Africa-Middle East at 30 percent. Latin American markets, hampered by an economic downturn, grew by only 17 percent. Introduction of 2.5-generation (2.5G) services, new feature-rich handsets, promotional campaigns by operators and favorable pricing helped spike a particularly strong 73-percent growth rate in North America between the third and fourth quarters of 2002. … Read more

Oh noes, handset overproduction in China!
BEIJING-China’s Ministry of Information Industry (MII) estimates the production capacity of the 36 mobile-phone manufacturers in China will reach 250 million this year, up from 100 million last year, while sales are expected to reach 170 million handsets. Some analysts fear the world market will not be able to absorb the remaining 80 million handsets, leading to a fierce price war among the manufacturers. The forecast of brokerage firm Salomon Smith Barney is more conservative, predicting a domestic supply of 119.9 million handsets and a demand of 123.4 million. Domestic producers increased their market share to between 30 percent and 35 percent last year and may increase their combined share to 50 percent this year. Ningbo Bird ranks third in handset sales in China following Motorola and Nokia. Some analysts predict a debilitating price war in the coming months, while others expect technology and sales networks to drive competition. The short replacement cycle of mobile-phone handsets could still ensure a significant demand if consumers are attracted by new technologies and services, such as camera phones and multimedia messaging service (MMS). … Read more

State-driven billing crack-down on operators expected
WASHINGTON-The states are preparing to crack down on the mobile-phone industry. Twenty-two attorneys general, who have been collecting information from wireless carriers during the past two years, are laying the groundwork to confront the nation’s mobile-phone carriers with a proposal to change billing and other business practices deemed deceptive and harmful to consumers voluntarily or else face the prospect of widespread and prolonged litigation, according to a knowledgeable source. Under one scenario in play, according to the source, the 22 state attorneys general would try to entice mobile-phone carriers to enter a settlement without attaching blame. Wireless companies could agree to take certain actions under a court-approved Assurance of Voluntary Compliance. … Read more

Hacked customer data sold the old-school way, via CD
MOSCOW-Biggest Russian carrier Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) was stunned to see its database of clients sold on pirate CD across Moscow and launched an investigation among the staff. The CD containing private data on some 3 million Moscow clients of the company, including their account numbers, is offered for US$150 in numerous stalls notorious for selling other pirate audio and video materials. MTS spokeswoman Eva Prokofyeva said the carrier is investigating the theft, but admitted it is a difficult task to find the culprit. She calmed down the clients, saying the copied database did not allow anyone to abuse their accounts. … Read more

Testing on the EDGE
DENVER, United States-Major European carriers are conducting Enhanced Data Networks for Global Evolution (EDGE) trials, highlighting a major triumph for a technology once proclaimed dead. Burdened by the cost of third-generation (3G) licenses and technical hiccups with launching Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) networks and devices, sources say some of the major carriers have focused on the protocol as a transitional measure. Despite testing, these large carriers have not made any public declarations because they have not delivered on their promised rollout timeframe for UMTS, according to industry sources. But some small carriers have built the capability into their GSM systems, sources said. “The carriers have their own reasons,” remarked Riitta Mart, media relations manager at Nokia, who would not disclose the European carriers with which her company is working. … Read more

European operators lay out 3G plans
OXFORD, United Kingdom-Following last week’s decision from cell-phone operator MmO2 that it will delay the deployment of its U.K. third-generation (3G) service until the latter half of 2004, other European mobile operators provided more details of their 3G launch plans this week. In the United Kingdom, Vodafone and Hutchison’s 3 have stated they both plan to deploy high-speed services sometime this year, while T-Mobile has restated its intention to launch 3G services in 200 German cities covering more than 25 percent of the population by quarter three of this year. … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News’ Archives for more stories from the past.

The post #TBT: Hand-wringing over handset over-production; subscriber growth slows … this week in 2003 appeared first on RCR Wireless News.