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Days of GSM and TDM-based PSTN getting numbered

Despite having 70% global market share, the so called 2G mobile phone that runs on GSM technology has posted negative growth for the first time in 2013. And it will account for only 48% of the mobile subscription worldwide in 2018, predicts TeleGeography.

Migration from 2G to 3G and LTE is already well underway in much of the world, but the pace of the transition varies widely by region. The move from 2G technologies is most advanced in North America, where 3G and LTE accounted for more than 80 percent of wireless subscribers at year-end 2013, and are projected to reach 93 percent of subscriptions by 2018. In western Europe, just over 50 percent of mobile subscribers used 3G or LTE in 2013, a ratio that is projected to grow to 86 percent by 2018.

Adoption of 3G and LTE service has been far slower in other world regions. In eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America, 3G and LTE accounted for less than 30 percent of mobile subscribers at year-end 2013. Uptake in these regions will be more gradual, with 2G subscriber shares in 2018 projected to range from 37 percent in eastern Europe to 51 percent in the Middle East. Africa stands out as the only world region where 2G subscribers are projected to increase between 2013 and 2018, if slowly.

Meanwhile the FCC has invited proposals from carriers to replace the good old (more than 125 years) TDM technology with all-IP solutions.

The transition from a copper-wire, TDM system to IP-based alternatives has been building momentum since voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) services commenced over a decade ago. As carriers large and small replace their existing plant, seeking cost and service efficiencies in the process, the prospect of an all-IP network has come into view, so much so that large carriers began calling for planning for that transition over the last two years.

Planning is essential because, while the transition to an all-IP network promises significant benefits, it will entail complications affecting a wide range of regulatory and practical considerations. The costs and structure of interconnection and call completion, intercarrier compensation, resale of services to competitors, the allocation and use of telephone numbers – all these areas, and more, will feel the effects of an IP transition. Moreover, the transition may affect the reliability, availability, quality and cost of services offered to consumers.

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