There are now 50 million 3G subscribers worldwide, according to the UMTS Forum.
The UMTS Forum also revealed that WCDMA, the technology 3G is based on, is more popular in Europe than the traditionally more advanced market of Japan. There are more than 25 million of the world's 3G users now living in the continent.
According to Jean-Pierre BienaimÃ©, chairman of the UMTS Forum, the boost in subscriber numbers is down to more and more operators choosing to roll out third generation networks in the run up to Christmas, as well as offer more high-end devices. BienaimÃ© said he expects the number of subscribers to grow further with the introduction of HSDPA networks across Europe, expected later this year.
While 3G has made strides in achieving 50 million subscribers, it still remains a relatively small part of the overall mobile market, which recently reached two billion subscribers.
Nevertheless, 2006 will be 'the year of 3G', according to ABI Research. The analyst house is predicting that by 2010, there will be one billion 3G users - 30 per cent of all mobile subscribers.