3G Americas, the wireless industry trade association representing GSM devices, has announced that as of December 2008, four billion cell phones are currently in use, covering 60 percent of the world population.
The organization said in a statement that in some countries, millions of people are now experiencing connectivity to the world for the first time through wireless, "changing their economic, social and political fortunes forever." Of the countries listed in the report, Latin America and the Caribbean region both posted 16 percent year-on-year growth; subscription numbers are expected to reach in excess of 440 million.
Looking forward, 3G Americas is pushing the adoption of next-generation LTE networks. "Third generation technologies continue to evolve and the GSM operator today has a clear path towards LTE," said Chris Pearson, president of 3G Americas, in the statement. "In addition to the evolution to LTE by GSM operators, LTE is proving to be the technology choice for CDMA operators as well."
In a separate study, Informa notes that 415 million cell phone subscribers use 3G networks, with 77 percent of them on HSDPA/UMTS and the remaining 95 million on CDMA EV-DO.