2013 Asia - Fixed Voice Market

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Last updated: 26 Feb 2013 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 321

Analyst: Peter Evans

Publication Overview

This Asia market report looks at the fixed-line segment of the market, covering 35 countries in North, South, South East and Central Asia. It provides an overview of each of the markets and looks at some of the main players in the various economies.

Researchers:- Peter Evans, Paul Budde
Current publication date:- February 2013 (16th Edition)

Executive Summary

Asia’s fixed voice subscriber market is in decline, with China leading the way – downwards

For almost a decade now, growth in Asia’s fixed voice market has generally been ‘flattening out’ and in some countries the number of subscribers has gone into decline. Activity in the fixed voice market has simply been overwhelmed and overshadowed by the frenzied activity in the energetic and expanding mobile market. The declining trend is now clearly evident in the overall statistics for the regional market. By 2012 the total number of fixed services in Asia had dropped to an estimated 510 million, down from 566 million in 2007. Whilst many markets remain stable and some are even continuing to grow, the single biggest factor in the region’s overall status is the performance of China where some 95 million fixed services have disappeared from the national subscriber base since 2006; at the time, there were 370 million fixed-line subscribers in the country. China’s estimated 275 million fixed services by end-2012 represented 54% of Asia’s total.

It is noted that Asia, boosted as it is by China’s presence, has around 43% of the global total of fixed voice services. In the meantime, Asia had an overall total of around 3.5 billion telephone services (combined fixed and mobile) as it entered 2013; of these, as already noted, just over 500 million were fixed-line and, of course, the remainder were mobile.

Of the 35 or so countries in Asia, the top 10 in terms of fixed-line subscribers claimed over 90% of the region’s fixed-line services coming into 2013.

As for the region’s wider market, it is interesting to note that a number of the more sophisticated telecom markets in Asia are also highly penetrated fixed-line markets; the regional leaders in this regard are Taiwan, with a 75% teledensity, South Korea with 65% and Hong Kong with 61%; they are followed by Singapore (40%) and Japan (38%).

Asia – Top 10 fixed-line markets (ranked by penetration) – 2012








South Korea



Hong Kong























(Source: BuddeComm based on ITU and industry data, estimates)

As with other segments of the telecom market in Asia, we note the ever-present gap between the developed and developing economies of the region. In the developing economies, the building of essential fixed-line infrastructure has been largely ignored in favour of rolling out mobile networks as a quick way of providing telephone services to the population. In some of the developing countries governments have become involved, trying to force the pace of fixed-line roll-outs; in these markets the success rate has been mixed. In the Philippines this type of program proved conspicuously ineffective and teledensity has languished for years at around 4%. In Indonesia the initial effort by the government to force the pace of fixed-line roll-out was an organisational nightmare; however, in the last five years or so, Wireless Local Loop (WLL) has provided a platform for a significant surge in fixed line growth in that country. In the four years to 2010 fixed-line services increased by almost 200%. The government in Vietnam has also been heavily involved in promoting growth in the fixed-line sector. It looked to be making significant progress for a while, with the figures suggesting that the country had one of the more highly-penetrated fixed-line markets in the region (reported 34% teledensity); however, there were questions about the accuracy of the government’s statistics and more recent data puts the penetration at around 10%.

Despite the decline in actual fixed voice subscribers in Asia, fixed infrastructure remains an important component in the overall development of the telecom sector as it underpins for the time being the general functionality of each national telecommunications network. Apart from the voice services supported by the fixed-line infrastructure in the markets of Asia, the bonus of a healthy and extensive fixed network has been its ability to support DSL-based broadband access, especially in developing economies. As a consequence, DSL has played a key role in the deployment and general development of broadband internet in Asia.

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