Virus impact over each market - telecom operators, government agencies and regulators' responses - revised forecasts for the next 5 years.
This Asia market publication covers 35 countries in North, South, South East and Central Asia. The report presents 575 tables and 124 charts that offer a comprehensive range of statistics covering the mobile segment in each of the identified markets. As well as providing the latest available statistics, the tables also include an extensive volume of historical data for most of the parameters being measured.
Researchers:- Peter Evans, Paul Budde
Current publication date:- February 2013 (17th Edition)
Asia presents a massive presence in the global mobile and broadband markets. The region owns close to 50% of the world’s mobile subscribers. And when it comes to the development of broadband internet Asia makes a strong claim to be leading the world. On the back of the mobile and broadband market segments and their respective capabilities, Asian nations have been busy building a formidable alliance with the digital economy.
Following more than a decade of strong growth, mobile markets across Asia continued to expand during 2012 and into 2013. By the start of 2012 there was a total of around 2.7 billion mobile subscribers in the region and with annual growth running at close to 15% the numbers were estimated to have hit 3 billion by end 2012. With some markets saturating and the impact of the shaky global economy still being felt, it is not surprising that the growth rate has slowed somewhat over the last year or so. This is after a period where annual mobile subscriber growth rates in Asia had been well in excess of 50%.
Overall regional penetration had reached an estimated 72% coming into 2013; although this figure is impressive in a region where the population was around 4.2 billion, it nevertheless suggests that there is still more room for subscriber growth across Asia. By early 2013 many countries in Asia had mobile penetration levels in excess of 100% and a growing number had penetrations over 150%; two (Macau and Hong Kong) even had mobile penetrations in excess of 200%. Not surprisingly, the Global Financial Crisis caused some caution in mobile markets across the region for a year or two, but after a pause the momentum has quickly picked up again. The business emphasis has shifted from general subscriber growth to value added and mobile broadband. This shift is reinforced by the recent action of operators to remove inactive subscribers from their databases, the most compelling example of this during 2012 being in India’s huge mobile market.
Particularly relevant in the context of rapidly growing markets that still have some further room for expansion are the two giant markets of India and China where monthly net additions have regularly been close to 10 million subscribers. These two countries alone account for over 32% and 28% overall market share in the Asia region respectively; or a massive 60% combined. With China and India leading the way, Asia will continue to grow its mobile subscriber numbers on the back of those other markets in the region with large populations and relatively low penetration rates such as the Philippines, Pakistan and Indonesia.
In the developing economies, quick and easy mobile uptake has for a long time been the preferred, and often the only, option for subscribers, given the low levels of fixed-line deployments. In order to prevent ARPU slide in these markets, operators are offering value added mobile services such as mobile banking, remittance payments and mobile health services that take advantage of lack of access by the poor to social infrastructure such as banks and hospitals. As a consequence of these mobile-based services, the digital economy is alive and well in many of the emerging markets across Asia.
In the meantime, the developed markets in the region, such as Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, have positioned themselves well to exploit mobile data and broadband wireless opportunities and lead the rest of the region into the next generations of mobile applications. In fact, through the leadership of these markets Asia makes a strong claim to be setting the global benchmark when it comes to the development of mobile broadband internet access.
The rate of adoption of mobile broadband started increasing rapidly across Asia with the overall increase in mobile penetration combined with networks being progressively upgraded to next generation platforms. The initial wave of 3G services took a while before it saw any substantial growth in wireless data services across the wider regional markets; however, as 3G moves towards 4G and as speeds increase, as service improves and as content providers offer more, the market has finally developed considerably momentum. In South Asia, in particular, more people own a mobile phone than a PC, giving the delivery of mobile data services huge potential there.
Although official statistics were not available for overall mobile broadband in the region, it was estimated that mobile broadband penetration was around 14% by end-2012; this represented 585 million mobile broadband subscribers; two of Asia’s markets – South Korea and Singapore – had more mobile broadband subscribers than population coming into 2012; Japan was not far behind on 90% mobile broadband penetration at the time.
The 3G licensing process and the progressive launch of 3G services in Asia is already well advanced. However, a few countries had been particularly slow in opening up their 3G markets. But by 2012 the last significant player to embrace 3G, the recalcitrant Thailand, was finally making substantial progress along this path. By 2012 many markets – the regulators and the operators - had started turning their attention to 4G / Long Term Evolution (LTE) as the next step in delivering quality mobile broadband access to users.
The energetic expansion of mobile broadband was certainly more of a phenomenon in the developed economies of the region, but most of the relatively poorer developing countries of the region have been increasingly adopting mobile broadband at a rapid rate. The choice of technology platforms used to deliver the service varies considerably across the region.
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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Gary Sorkin, Pacific Communication Group
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