This report provides 459 tables of mobile communications and some mobile data (as far as available) statistics covering 35 countries in Asia. Data shown for North Korea is scant due to its paucity and unreliability.
Researchers:- Lisa Hulme-Jones and Peter Evans
Current publication date:- March 2011 (16th Edition)
Next publication date:- May 2012
The Asia region had accumulated almost 2.4 billion mobile subscribers half way through 2010 and was estimated to have passed 2.6 million by year-end. Growth was continuing at an annual rate of around 20%. Although overall regional growth was certainly moderating, a broad pattern of expansion was noted through 2010 and into 2011. It was anticipated that by end-2011 there would be almost 3 billion mobile subscribers across Asia.
After a period where annual mobile subscriber growth rates in Asia had been well in excess of 50%, making it the leading region globally, not surprisingly the rate has slowed somewhat over the last year or so. Overall regional penetration had reached an estimated 65% by end-2010, suggesting that while the region’s developed markets had probably reached near-saturation in terms of subscribers, there was still more room for subscriber growth across the region. There were more than 12 countries in Asia with mobile penetration levels in excess of 100% by 2010. Not surprisingly, the global financial crisis had caused some caution across the region for a while, mainly during 2009, after a pause the momentum has quickly begun to pick up again.
Over the last decade, most of Asia has progressively been embracing mobile technology in its various forms, seemingly prepared to shrug off the impact of regional and global economic slowdowns. That is not to say that the Asian market has been without pain. Many Asian operators followed their counterparts in the US and Europe and we have seen plenty of mergers and restructurings, refinancing, layoffs; etc, as the players responded to difficult times and highly competitive markets. Through all this, Asian consumers have consistently acquired and used mobile phones and, more particularly, have been big adopters of new products and services. This growth pattern has been evident in both the developed and emerging markets. The rapid movement of emerging markets into 3G has been a case in point.
Of special note has been the remarkable growth in the massive markets of India and China where monthly net additions have been regularly in excess of the 10 million subscriber mark. Coming into 2011, these two countries alone account for over 28% and 33% overall market share in the Asia region respectively; or a massive combined 61%.
Of the highly penetrated markets in the regions, the standout performer is Macau with a mind-boggling 195% in 2010. However, one does need to consider that when pre-paid subscribers are taken out of the mix for Macau, penetration drops to a more reasonable level of 85%. Macau is a popular destination for visitors from both mainland China and Hong Kong and pre-paid mobile packages are popular for these short term users.
In terms of growth rates, not surprisingly it was the smaller and generally less-developed markets that have been expanding rapidly. More recently, the rate of growth has clearly been much cooler than back in 2007, however; in that year there were seven countries in Asia with annual growth rates in excess of 90%. By 2010 there were no markets with growth rates in excess of 100% (North Korea came in at around 96%).
Most significantly, Asia has not only been dynamic in terms of growth; it has also been a leader in innovation with such products as NTT DoCoMo’s i-Mode in Japan and the widespread application of Short Message Service (SMS), with the Philippines being particularly creative in this segment of the market. Whilst not all innovative moves have taken off, there has been a strong mood of creativity in the market that has more often than not been supported by strong customer response. Asia has provided an effective test bed for the introduction and development of New Generation mobile services in their various forms.
Although operators across Asia are finding business more challenging, there is still room for substantial growth. Markets with large populations and comparatively low penetration rates, such as India, China, Philippines, Pakistan, and Indonesia, can be expected to continue to grow. In the more mature markets such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, mobile numbers will certainly to see more modest overall growth, but there will be strong movement into new generation services in these markets.
Operators still face the challenge of trying to prevent the general slide in Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) as mobile services spread to less wealthy parts of the population. To some extent, a large customer base will help to offset low spend but new non-voice services are already helping to drive revenue. There is now an increasing incidence of slippage in ARPU being arrested and even starting to grow again. Operators are also developing mobile services such as mobile banking, remittance payments, and mobile health services that take advantage of a lack of access by the poor to social infrastructure such as banks and hospitals.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.
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