Forward Concepts has announced the publication of what is probably the definitive in-depth study of the market and technology of the worldwide cellular infrastructure. The new report, "Wireless Infrastructure Technology and Markets: The Challenge of 3G," details infrastructure markets through 2006 and the technology changes necessary as cellular evolves from the circuit-switched, voice-only digital second-generation (2G) through combination circuit-switched voice and packet-switched data 2.5G to the all-IP multimedia-centric third-generation (3G) of the future.

The report forecasts that worldwide cellular subscribers will grow at a 13.6 percent rate, from 1.1 billion in 2002 to 2.0 billion in 2006.

However, fueled by competition among cellular service providers and their aggressive subscriber rate plans, the report predicts that infrastructure capacity demand will grow at an estimated 35 percent compound rate as a result of both increasing air time and greater bandwidth use by wireless subscribers.

The worldwide capital investment in base station and mobile switching system electronic equipment will grow at a compound rate of 8.3 percent from $49.5 B in 2002 to $68.6 B in 2006. The report details worldwide investment by major air interfaces, by regions."3G deployments will be both evolutionary and revolutionary," according to Dr. James E. Gunn, Forward Concepts senior consultant and author of the report. He elaborated, "In spite of the current difficult economic and telecom environment, we observe many positive trends. These positive trends include:

1. Many actual and pending 2.5G/3G deployment,
2. Significant interest in emerging market possibilities,
3. Non-voice revenue by operators climbing to 10 percent or more, and
4. Semiconductor and wireless handset industry indicators are exhibiting positive trends.

We believe that the economic environment will continue to improve and that the many standards and technical issues will soon be resolved. The value proposition that 2.5G and 3G brings to subscribers appears to be confirmed."

Dr. Gunn emphasized the technical content of the report, saying, "We believe that DSP and semiconductor technology advances will be sufficient by late 2003 to support Software-Defined Radio (SDR) technology deployments in both mobile terminal and infrastructure markets. The main issues will be the market needs, the supporting RF and mixed-signal technologies, and the cost of implementation. For mobile terminals, SDR will enable worldwide roaming by a single user with a single handset. For infrastructure, SDR will provide economies of scale, flexible 2.5G to 3G transition and flexible provisioning." The report predicts early 3G deployments in Japan and Korea will soon be eclipsed by a rapid rollout over an already-installed 3G infrastructure in Europe. Wireless Internet deployment will likely be regionally motivated, with greatest opportunities in countries with lesser wireline Internet penetration, like Japan and China. Since the US is the only country where wireline Internet penetration leads wireless, the largest wireless Internet opportunity will probably be outside of the US.

Details of the report are available on the company Web site at