European 3G Subscriptions Seen Topping 100 Million

European mobile carriers have crossed the 100 million mark with subscribers on their third-generation networks, market research firm Informa Telecoms and Media said.

At the end of May, Europe had 101.5 million 3G subscriptions out of a total of mobile subscriptions of 910.8 million, a 11.1 percent penetration, Informa said, adding it only counted devices that were actively used for voice or data services or both.

“A slight slowdown in the growth in WCDMA handset sales in Western Europe in (the first quarter) was counteracted by an acceleration in sales of WCDMA/HSPA data cards and modems, which boosted the size of the total 3G market, particularly in Sweden and Austria,” the firm said.

Mobile operators are increasingly looking to data services, provided over third-generation networks, to drive growth in mature markets where revenues from voice calls have begun to stagnate or fall.

Informa data shows that the percentage of 3G subscribers is highest in Sweden, Norway and Italy with well over 25 percent, followed by Portugal, Austria and Spain.

(Reporting by Niclas Mika; Editing by David Cowell)