updated 02:15 pm EDT, Thu September 4, 2008
US Overtakes Europe in 3G
US cellular subscribers are finally catching up and even outpacing Europeans in their use of 3G devices, according to a new ComScore study. The research group explains the number of American cellphone owners with a 3G-capable device surged from just 16.7 percent in June 2007 to 28.4 percent a year later; the shift is both a 70 percent increase and enough to edge out Europe's average adoption, which also grew substantially but fell just short of the US at 28.3 percent. The US now has approximately 64.2 million customers with the faster service.
Only Italy (at 38.3 percent) and Spain (37.2 percent) had a higher ratio of 3G users than the US on their individual national networks.
The switch is a major reversal of reputations for the respective territories. Europe was the first to move to 3G through its UMTS networks early this decade and has regularly received 3G devices first or exclusively; similar performance only arrived in the US a few years later through EVDO with carriers such as Sprint and Verizon, and later HSDPA through AT&T. T-Mobile USA is just launching its 3G network this year.
ComScore's research period also ended a month before the release of key 3G devices such as Apple's iPhone 3G and RIM's BlackBerry Bold, either of which is believed to be spurring renewed interest in 3G. The iPhone by itself was responsible for one million sales worldwide on its opening week, a large portion of which were located within the US.