The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) received some good news Tuesday after figures predicted its growth would increase dramatically through this year.

According to the GSM Association (GSMA) in London, the GSM standard is expected to reach one billion subscribers by the end of 2003. The GSMA’s numbers show that by the end of 2002, GSM saw more than 780 million subscribers across 190 countries worldwide.

The GSM standard is a digital cellular phone technology based on time division multiple access (TDMA) that is the predominant system in Europe and operates in the 900MHz and 1.8GHz bands in Europe and the 1.9GHz PCS band in North America. The standard, supported by Rogers AT&T Corp. and Microcell Inc. in Canada, also supports data transfer at 9.6Kbps to packet networks, integrated services digital network (ISDN) and plain old telephone system (POTS) users.

According to Craig Ehrlich, chairman of the GSMA’s CEO board, the numbers show that approximately one in every seven people on the planet use GSM services today.

“(GSM) growth continues at a pace – it now accounts for more than 72 per cent of the world’s digital wireless market – and we fully expect to achieve one billion customers around the turn of this year,” Ehrlich said in a statement.

In June 2002, GSM adoption was recorded at over 15 million subscribers in North America, more than 90 million GSM subscribers in Europe and more than 275 million in Asia/Pacific according to the EMC World Cellular Database.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada