2007 South East Asian - Mobile Communications and Mobile Data Markets

Publication Overview

This annual report offers a wealth of information on the Mobile market in Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam.. Subjects covered include:

  • Overview, Regional Characteristics, Growth and Market Structure
  • Mobile Technologies - GSM, CDMA, PCN/PCS, 3G;
  • Mobile Services - Prepaid, fixed-mobile convergence, gaming
  • Mobile Data - Market Overview, SMS, MMS, PoC, GPRS, WAP
  • Major Mobile Operators;
  • Mobile Satellite Services

Executive Summary

This Asia market annual report covers 11 countries in the South East Asia sub-region. It takes an overall look at the mobile communication and mobile data markets in each of the countries.

The South East Asian countries covered include: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam.

The mobile market in South East Asia consists of a mix of highly penetrated and considerably less penetrated economies. The one consistent element is the period of high growth being experienced across the sub-region. Malaysia is the exception as its mobile market undergoes market consolidation. By June 2007, the region had amassed 1.2 billion mobile subscribers. Of these, a total of around 230 million were to be found in South East Asia. In terms of total subscribers, the market leader was Indonesia (75 million mobile subscribers), followed by the Philippines (49 million) and Thailand (47 million).

South East Asia mobile markets - subscribers, penetration and annual change - June 2007

Country Penetration Subscribers
Annual change
Brunei Darussalam 114% 0.44 30%
Cambodia 13% 1.9 38%
Indonesia 33% 74.9 59%
Laos 13% 0.9 41%
Malaysia 86% 21.3 -1%
Myanmar >1% 0.33 49%
Philippines 56% 49.3 28%
Singapore 116% 5.2 21%
Thailand 71% 47.3 38%
Timor Leste 5% 0.06 55%
Vietnam 30% 24.4 98%
(Source: BuddeComm)

Highlights in the individual mobile markets of South East Asia include:


A small wealthy nation in South East Asia, Brunei made early moves to ensure that it was delivering up to date telecommunications services to its population. The target of 100% digitalisation was achieved way back in 1995. Telecommunications throughout Brunei are of a high standard and the country ranks well in Asia in terms of penetration and infrastructure. Brunei’s mobile penetration, which stood at a reasonably healthy 32% by end-2001, continued to grow strongly and had hit an amazing 118% by March 2007. Despite the growth, Brunei needs to look to further restructure its telecom sector if it is to take full advantage of the benefits of a competitive market. For the country overview, see chapter 2, page 5.


Cambodia’s flourishing mobile market passed the one million subscriber milestone in late 2005 and continued to grow at a healthy annual rate of almost 40% through 2006. By June 2007, there were 1.9 million mobile customers (over 13% penetration), as mobile services continued to totally overshadow the fixed-line segment of the market. (Fixed-lines were languishing at around 40,000 subscribers.) Given the booming mobile market, it may be surprising to also find other sectors of the market in the doldrums. For the country overview, see chapter 3, page 8.


The mobile market in Indonesia has continued to expand and by mid-2007 the market sector was growing at a rate of close to 60%; the subscriber base had reached almost 75 million, up from 4 million subscribers just six years earlier. While mobile penetration has quickly raced to almost 33%, there is considerable potential remaining for further growth in this market. With the government having already issued 3G licences to five operators - in what was a somewhat chaotic administrative process spread over some years - there was mounting interest in which direction the mobile market would take. For the country overview, see chapter 4, page 13.


The country’s mobile phone market finally took off in early 2003, the number of subscribers increasing sevenfold over the next two years. The market was continuing to grow at an annual rate in excess of 40% by March 2007 and there were almost 900,000 mobile subscribers (penetration of 13%) in the country. The Lao telecom sector still has many issues to address. Despite the rapid opening up of the market, the regulatory progress continues to lag behind market development and has the potential to derail the progress already made if reform is not speeded up. For the country overview, see chapter 5, page 36.


Mobile penetration passed the 85% mark in the first half of 2007, with subscriber numbers at the same time passing 21 million. This was up from only 2 million subscribers in 1998. Malaysia has the second highest mobile penetration in South East Asia after Singapore. The country’s mobile users have also been enthusiastic in their adoption of SMS, with the regulator reporting that Malaysians sent more than nine billion SMS during 2005. For the country overview, see chapter 6, page 40.


The country’s telecommunications market is characterised by what can only be described as stunted development. The telecom sector is indicative of the overall state of the national economy. Myanmar’s official economic data is not considered reliable, making actual growth rates difficult to ascertain. However, it is reasonably evident that fixed telephone line penetration remains a lowly 1%, mobile services are prohibitively expensive and limited (mobile penetration of 2% is reported). For the country overview, see chapter 7, page 64.

The Philippines

There has been a rapid take-up of mobile services and, following on from that, a remarkably high national usage of the SMS has occurred throughout the country. Mobile penetration has grown quickly to have reached 56% (almost 50 million subscribers) by June 2007, up from only 6 million mobile subscribers in the country in 2000. For the moment it looks to have reached a plateau, although further growth cannot be dismissed. Not surprisingly, mobile services have well and truly overwhelmed fixed-line services. Much of the recent growth in mobiles was coming from outside the main city of Manila, with the big operators, Globe and Smart, vying for lower income segments of the population by offering a range of cheap prepaid products. For the country overview, see chapter 8, page 67.


The mobile market in Singapore is characterised by its energy and innovation. Even as the growth slowed a little – annual growth of 21% in June 2007, penetration at 116% - considerable effort continued to go into value-added products and services. At the same time, the market is approaching the future cautiously. The planning for 3G has been a case in point. The major operators and, to some extent, the government have been circumspect about the next generation of mobile telephony and the benefits it will bring. Despite this caution, all three mobile operators had launched 3G services by early 2005. Of the 5.2 million mobile subscribers in June 2007, 1.25 million were 3G services. For the country overview, see chapter 9, page 95.


Thailand’s telecom sector has exuded considerable energy in recent times, despite some economic uncertainty, questions about political stability and ongoing question of just how committed the government is to sector reform. Over the last four or five years, the country’s mobile telephone market in particular recorded particularly strong annual growth rates. By mid-2007, mobile penetration had passed 70%, but the annual subscriber growth rate had slowed somewhat to 38%. The country has certainly been seeing the benefits of a liberalised market. For the country overview, see chapter 10, page 123.

Timor Leste

The tiny fledgling nation of Timor Leste (East Timor) has continued to experience political instability and outbreaks of violence. Telecommunications remains an important priority under a newly established Ministry of Transport, Communication & Public Works (MTCPW). In 2002, the government selected Portugal Telecom to be the lead partner in a consortium to operate Timor Telecom. The new operator replaced Telstra during 2003 and set about expanding the countries telecom facilities. For the country overview, see chapter 11, page 157.


The country’s mobile market has been especially dynamic, growing at an annual rate of almost 100%. The strong growth was likely to continue, building on the more than 24 million mobile subscribers (penetration 30%) in the country by June 2007. As with most other Asian mobile markets, growth in Vietnam was substantially boosted by the introduction of prepaid mobile services. For the country overview, see chapter 12, page 158.

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

Table of Contents

1.1Mobile market forecasts
1.1.1Notes on scenario forecasts
1.1.2Indonesia forecasts – mobile market
1.1.3Thailand forecasts – mobile market
1.1.4Vietnam forecasts – mobile market
2.1Overview of Brunei Darussalam’s mobile market
2.1.1Mobile statistics
2.2Mobile voice services
2.2.1Satellite mobile
3.1Overview of Cambodia’s mobile market
3.1.1Mobile statistics
3.2Regulatory issues
3.3Major mobile operators
3.3.1Cambodia GSM (MobiTel)
3.3.4AZ Communications
3.4Mobile services
3.4.1Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
4.1Overview of Indonesia’s mobile market
4.1.1Mobile statistics
4.2Mobile technologies
4.2.1Analogue services (AMPS and NMT)
4.2.3Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)
4.2.4General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
4.2.5Third Generation (3G) mobile
4.3Major mobile operators
4.3.1PT Telkomsel
4.3.2PT Indosat
4.3.3PT Excelcomindo
4.3.4Mandara (Mobisel)
4.3.6Natrindo Telepon Selular (NTS)
4.3.7PT Hutchison CP Telecommunications (formerly Cyber Access Communications)
4.4Mobile voice services
4.4.1Prepaid services
4.4.2Satellite mobile
4.5Mobile data services
4.5.1Short Message Service (SMS)
4.5.2Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
4.5.3Mobile TV
4.5.4Other services
5.1Overview of Laos’s mobile market
5.1.1Mobile statistics
5.2Major mobile operators
5.2.1Lao Telecommunications Company
5.2.2Enterprise of Telecommunications Lao (ETL)
5.2.3Millicom (Tango)
5.2.4Lao Asia Telecom (LAT)
5.2.5Sky Telecom
6.1Overview of Malaysia’s mobile market
6.1.1Mobile statistics
6.1.2Mobile infrastructure
6.2Mobile technologies
6.2.1Third Generation (3G) mobile
6.2.2Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
6.2.3Handset market
6.3Major mobile operators
6.3.1Telekom Malaysia
6.3.3Digi Communications
6.3.4Maxis Communications
6.3.5Time dotCom
6.4Mobile voice services
6.4.1Prepaid services
6.5Mobile data services
6.5.1Short Message Services (SMS)
6.5.2Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
6.5.3Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
6.5.4General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
6.5.5InterReach Unison
6.5.7Mobile TV / Video on Demand (VoD)
6.6Mobile applications
7.1Overview of Myanmar’s mobile market
7.1.1Mobile statistics
7.2Mobile operators
7.2.1Myanmar P&T (MPT)
7.2.2Loxley Plc
7.2.3Myanmar Sky-Link Company
7.2.4Htoo Trading Company
7.3Mobile voice services
7.3.1Satellite mobile
8.1Overview of the Philippines’ mobile market
8.1.1Mobile statistics
8.2Regulatory issues
8.2.1Mobile licences
8.3Mobile technologies
8.3.1Personal Communication Services (PCS)
8.3.2Third Generation (3G) mobile
8.4Major mobile operators
8.4.2Globe Telecom
8.4.3Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT)
8.4.5Digitel/Sun Cellular
8.5Mobile voice services
8.5.1Prepaid cards
8.6Mobile data services
8.6.1Short Message Service (SMS)
8.6.2Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
8.6.3Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
8.6.4General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
8.6.5Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
8.6.6Hand-held devices / Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
8.7Mobile content and applications
8.7.1Mobile tracking
9.1Overview of Singapore’s mobile market
9.1.1Mobile statistics
9.2Regulatory issues
9.2.1Additional spectrum auction
9.2.3Mobile billing systems
9.2.4Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
9.2.5Registration of prepaid services
9.3Mobile technologies
9.3.3Wired with Wireless Program
9.3.4Third Generation (3G) mobile
9.4Major mobile operators
9.4.1SingTel Mobile
9.4.4Virgin Mobile
9.5Mobile voice services
9.5.2International roaming
9.5.3Satellite mobile
9.6Mobile data services
9.6.1Short Messaging Service (SMS)
9.6.2Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
9.6.3Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
9.6.4General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
9.6.5Location-based services
9.6.7Other developments
10.1Overview of Thailand’s mobile market
10.1.1Mobile statistics
10.1.3Interconnection arrangements
10.2Mobile technologies
10.2.1PCN services
10.2.2General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
10.2.3Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
10.2.4Third Generation (3G) mobile
10.2.5Mobile handsets
10.3Major mobile operators
10.3.1Market overview
10.3.2Advanced Info Service (AIS)
10.3.4True Move (formerly TA Orange)
10.3.5Hutchison CAT Multimedia
10.3.6Thai Mobile
10.3.7CAT Mobile
10.4Mobile voice services
10.5Mobile data services
10.5.1Short Message Service (SMS)
10.5.2Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
10.5.3Smart phones
10.5.4Push-to-talk over Cellular (PoC)
10.5.5Global Positioning System (GPS) service
10.6Mobile content and applications
11.1Overview of Timor Leste’s mobile market
11.1.1Mobile statistics
12.1Overview of Vietnam’s mobile market
12.1.1Mobile statistics
12.2Mobile technologies
12.2.1Mobile handsets
12.3Major mobile operators
12.3.4S-Fone (SLD Telecom)
12.3.6New operators
12.4Mobile voice services
12.4.1Prepaid cards
12.4.2Third Generation (3G) mobile
12.5Mobile data services
12.5.1Short Message Service (SMS)
12.5.2Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
12.5.3Instant Messaging (IM)
12.5.4Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
12.5.5General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
12.5.6Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
12.5.7International Roaming
12.6Mobile applications
Exhibit 1 – Overview of MPT’s CDMA service
Exhibit 2 – 3G licensees in Singapore

Table 1 – Forecast mobile growth in Indonesia – lower forecast – 2006; 2010; 2015
Table 2 – Forecast mobile growth in Indonesia – upper forecast – 2006; 2010; 2015
Table 3 – Forecast mobile growth in Thailand – lower forecast – 2005; 2010; 2015
Table 4 – Forecast mobile growth in Thailand – upper forecast – 2005; 2010; 2015
Table 5 – Forecast mobile growth in Vietnam – lower forecast – 2005; 2010; 2015
Table 6 – Forecast mobile growth in Vietnam – upper forecast – 2005; 2010; 2015
Table 7 – Mobile statistics in Brunei Darussalam – March 2007
Table 8 – Mobile subscriber growth in Brunei Darussalam – 1995 - 2007
Table 9 – Mobile operators, technology, subscribers and annual change in Brunei Darussalam – March 2007
Table 10 – Prepaid mobile subscribers in Brunei Darussalam – 1999 - 2006
Table 11 – Mobile statistics in Cambodia – 2006
Table 12 – Mobile operators, technology, subscribers and annual growth in Cambodia – 2006
Table 13 – Mobile subscriber growth in Cambodia – 1993 - 2006
Table 14 – MobiTel subscriber growth – 1998 - 2006
Table 15 – CamShin subscriber growth – 1998 - 2006
Table 16 – Casacom subscriber growth – 1998 - 2006
Table 17 – Mobile statistics in Indonesia – March 2007
Table 18 – Mobile subscriber growth in Indonesia – 1995 - 2007
Table 19 – Mobile operators, technology, subscribers and yearly growth in Indonesia – March 2007
Table 20 – Subscribers and market share by operator in Indonesia – March 2007
Table 21 – Telkomsel subscribers postpaid, prepaid and market share – 1999 - 2007
Table 22 – Telkomsel postpaid & prepaid ARPU, annual change, subscribers and annual growth – March 2007
Table 23 – Telkomsel postpaid and prepaid subscribers – 2001 - 2007
Table 24 – Prepaid subscribers – selected operators in Indonesia – 2006
Table 25 – Telkomsel SMS services and annual growth – September 2005
Table 26 – Mobile statistics in Laos – 2006
Table 27 – Mobile operators, technology, subscribers and annual change in Laos – 2006
Table 28 –Mobile subscribers and annual change in Laos – 1995 - 2006
Table 29 – Mobile subscribers and market share in Laos – 2006
Table 30 – Lao Telecom mobile subscribers and annual growth – 1995 - 2006
Table 31 – Mobile statistics in Malaysia – March 2007
Table 32 – Mobile subscriber growth and penetration in Malaysia – 1994 - 2007
Table 33 – Mobile services revenues in Malaysia – 1993 - 2006
Table 34 – Mobile operators, technology, subscribers & annual change in Malaysia – March 2007
Table 35 – Mobile subscribers & market share by operator in Malaysia – March 2007
Table 36 – 3G mobile subscribers and market share in Malaysia – 2006 - 2007
Table 37 – Prepaid mobile subscriber growth and penetration in Malaysia – 2002 - 2006
Table 38 – Mobile statistics in Myanmar – September 2006
Table 39 – Mobile subscriber growth in Myanmar – 1995 - 2006
Table 40 – Mobile statistics in the Philippines – March 2007
Table 41 – Mobile subscribers and penetration in the Philippines – 1992; 1994; 1996 - 2007
Table 42 – Mobile services revenue in the Philippines – 1993 - 2006
Table 43 – 3G mobile subscribers and market share in the Philippines – 2006 - 2007
Table 44 – 3G mobile subscribers by operator in the Philippines – March 2007
Table 45 – Mobile operators, technology, subscribers and annual change in the Philippines – March 2007
Table 46 – Mobile market share by operator in the Philippines – March 2007
Table 47 – Globe Telecom subscribers – 2001 - 2007
Table 48 – Fixed-line versus mobile subscriptions and teledensity in Singapore – March 2007
Table 49 – Mobile statistics in Singapore – March 2007
Table 50 – Mobile market statistics in Singapore – March 2007
Table 51 – Mobile subscriber growth in Singapore – 1996 - 2007
Table 52 – Mobile services revenue in Singapore – 1993 - 2005
Table 53 – 3G mobile subscriber growth in Singapore – 2005 - 2007
Table 54 – 3G mobile subscribers by operator in Singapore – March 2007
Table 55 – Mobile operators, technology, subscribers and annual growth in Singapore – March 2007
Table 56 – Mobile operators, subscribers and market share in Singapore – March 2007
Table 57 – SingTel mobile subscribers – 1998 - 2007
Table 58 – MobileOne subscribers – 1998 - 2007
Table 59 – StarHub mobile subscribers – 2000 - 2007
Table 60 – 2G prepaid subscribers in Singapore – 1999 - 2007
Table 61 – Total SMS messages per month in Singapore – 2004 - 2007
Table 62 – Mobile statistics in Thailand – 2006
Table 63 – Mobile subscriber growth in Thailand – 1998 - 2007
Table 64 – Mobile services revenue and ARPU in Thailand – 1998 - 2006
Table 65 – Mobile market share in Thailand – 2006
Table 66 – Mobile operators, technology, subscribers and annual growth in Thailand – 2006
Table 67 – Mobile operators, subscribers and market share in Thailand – 2006
Table 68 – Prepaid subscribers and percentage of subscriber base by operator in Thailand – June 2006
Table 69 – Mobile statistics in Timor Leste – March 2007
Table 70 – Mobile subscribers in Timor Leste – 1999 - 2007
Table 71 – Mobile statistics in Vietnam – 2006
Table 72 – Mobile operators, technology, subscribers and annual growth in Vietnam – 2006
Table 73 – Mobile subscriber growth in Vietnam – 1995 - 2006
Table 74 – Mobile services revenue in Vietnam – 1993 - 2006
Table 75 – Mobifone subscriber growth – 1998 - 2006
Table 76 – Vinaphone subscriber growth – 1998 - 2006
Table 77 – S-Fone subscriber growth – 2003 - 2006
Table 78 – Viettel subscriber growth – 2004 - 2006

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Number of pages 199

Status Archived

Last updated 17 Oct 2007
Update History

Analyst: Stephen McNamara

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