By 2003, the western European cellular telecomms market could top 140 million subscribers, according to a study by industry consultancy Analysys.
The value of this market will leap to $23 billion in five years, an increase of 175 per cent over current subscriber levels, which busted the 50 million barrier late last year.
High mobile phone usage is also forecast for central and eastern Europe, which will enjoy growth rates of 23 per cent per year. Whereas demand for connection in western Europe will increasingly be driven by the consumer market from 2000, growth in central and eastern Europe will come from businesses.
According to the report?s author, Paul Knott, market development opportunities will be constrained by low per capita gross domestic product. By 2003, penetration is forecast to increase to around five per cent - up from 1.75 per cent in 1997. Much of the growth will come from the business subscriber market.
The trend differs in more service-oriented economies such as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia, where higher GDP per capita suggests that mobile services could attract a small affluent niche of consumers, suggests the report.
?The first mobile network in central and eastern Europe was launched in Croatia in 1990 with other countries in the region launching services in the next three years,? said Knott.
?In most markets, initial adoption was slow but subscription rates are now accelerating, offering mobile operators promising growth in connections and revenue over the next five years.?
Back in western Europe, sustaining long term growth will, according to the report, depend on the success of operators recruiting non-business customers. Business subscribers will continue to be the largest revenue generator, accounting for 75 per cent of the $23 billion by 2003.
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