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Jens

I am sure that GSM will continue to exist for several years and I think this is mainly due to the fact that GSM networks are still deployed and extended in the emerging economies. The fact that a GSM phone costs only a fraction of what todays mobile phones (or rather computer) cost plus the fact that GSM equipment is sold to those countries "relatively" cheap will make sure that GSM will continue for a loooong time.

Things are looking different in the established economies (e.g. Europe) though. Operators slowly reach a pricing level for data where it is not much fun any longer to do business with their current network technology. Today operators face the situation that their network cost increase the more traffic is transferred. They are in urgent need to break this vicious cycle and introduce technologies that make sure that the total cost of ownership is no longer a function directly related to the traffic the network transports. And indeed LTE seems to be the solution for that.

But I doubt that operators will keep 3 technologies (GSM, W-CDMA and LTE) that all promise to provide voice services in parallel for a very long time.
Spectrum will very likely remain the scarce resource and wants to be used efficiently. So I asume a certain level of "re-farming " will take place where frequency bands are used for new technologies - probably those of GSM.

It won't be 2012 when GSM disappears but I believe operators are already working on an exit strategy.

Another factor that plays a role is the device. I assume that the number of access technologies and frequency bands can not increase endlessly in the device and that one technology may disappear.

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