1 Million Base Stations in 20 Years, Another Million in Only Three

Here's an interesting press release from Ericsson, not necessarily for all the self praise but more for the claim at the beginning of the text that it took them 20 years to sell one million base stations and then only three more years for the next million. Here's a couple of thoughts on these numbers:

  • As the 20 years are counted up to 2007, the one million base stations must also include pre-GSM base stations as 2G base station shipments did not start until the early 1990's.
  • The number shows nicely how mobile networks have spread over the world and how networks have been densified over the years to serve more users, increased use per person and increasing wireless Internet access bandwidth demands.
  • It also shows that prices of base stations are declining as otherwise, Ericsson would have made a lot more money in the past three years than in the past 20.
  • A base station of 20 years ago has little in common with a base station today when it comes to size, power consumption and capacity. When GSM first started, huge cabinets were required that could only support a few carriers. 

To summarize: Compared to 20 years ago, base stations have significantly shrunken in size and their capacity in number of simultaneous voice calls and also available data rates is orders of magnitude higher than in the early days. Together with decreasing prices this is what is required to serve the continuously increasing demand, both on the voice and the packet data side.

Congrats to Ericsson!