2013 Asia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband Forecasts

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Last updated: 20 Feb 2013 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 74

Analyst: Peter Evans

Publication Overview

This market report provides a series of forecasts for subscriber growth in selected markets in Asia. The report essentially covers the fixed line, internet and mobile subscriber market segments in 24 countries across Asia; some additional market segments are covered for some countries. It is noted that despite the presence of a number of sophisticated markets, Asia is in the main a developing region. Our report has therefore focused mainly on the developing economies of the region where the main segments of the respective markets are more often than not in their earlier and middle subscriber growth and development phases.

The countries covered in this report include: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

 Researchers:- Peter Evans, Paul Budde
Current publication date:- February 2013 (17th Edition)


Executive Summary

Asia: whilst fixed-line subscribers in general decline across region, mobile still on growth path

Of Asia’s key market segments, the mobile market still has more room to grow as both mobile voice and data services in various forms continue to expand at a rapid rate all through the region. In the same manner the provision of internet access across the wider region still requires more effort to connect people to the internet and as a consequence there are still plenty of opportunities for growth. Although mobile broadband services are to some extent filling the gap in this market, ultimately there will be a need for fixed broadband services with more bandwidth. Even in the highly developed markets of Asia, the service providers are continuing their efforts to provide faster, more reliable internet services.

As already noted this report provides forecasts for subscriber growth across a range of market segments. The report provides a series of what BuddeComm terms scenario forecasts. By describing long-range scenarios we identify a band within which we expect subscriber growth to take place. The associated text describes what we see as the most likely growth trend within the identified band. The actual forecasts are summarised in a series of tables presented with the text.

Our scenario forecasting methodology applies a combination of our own historical information, together with telecommunications sector statistics from official and non-official, national and international sources. We assume a possible deviation of 15-20% around this data. All statistics for GDP, revenue, etc, are quoted in US$, in order to maintain consistency within and between the markets. At the same time we acknowledge that this can introduce some irregularities.

A set of sample tables are presented below, these being the actual scenario forecasts for Bangladesh. The upper and lower scenarios forecasts are presented for the years 2015 and 2020.

Bangladesh – forecast fixed line subscribers – 2015; 2020


Lower growth scenario

Higher growth scenario

Subscribers (million)


Subscribers (million)

















2012 (e)















(Source: BuddeComm, forecasts)

Background notes to market forecasts

Mobile markets in Asia have been experiencing strong growth during 2012 and into 2013, despite many countries in the region already having subscriber penetrations of over 150%. Growth across the region in mobile subscribers was in excess of 20% overall in 2011 and was estimated to have been about 15% in 2012 to achieve a regional total of three billion mobile subscribers by year end. This sort of growth is particularly relevant in China and India, with their huge populations. These two countries alone account for 32% and 28% overall market share in the Asia region respectively; or a massive 60% combined. The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008/2009 is the sort of thing that makes forecasting difficult. The GFC certainly caused some caution in mobile markets across the region for a while, mainly in 2009, but; after a pause, the momentum quickly begun to pick up again and effectively returned.

In terms of growth rates, not surprisingly it is the smaller and generally less-developed markets that have been expanding rapidly. More recently, the rate of growth of the mobile segment has clearly been much more subdued than back in 2007, for example; in that year there were seven countries in Asia with annual growth rates in their mobile markets in excess of 100%! By 2010 there were no markets with growth rates in excess of 100%. 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.

Intense competition right across the mobile markets of Asia has driven handset prices and airtime tariffs downward, thus opening up mobile services to wider adoption. The rate of adoption of wireless internet has started to rise with the overall increase in mobile penetration together with networks being progressively upgraded to next generation platforms. While 3G licensing and the ongoing launch of 3G services in Asia has certainly been promoting the growth of wireless data services, 3G has also been providing opportunities for both wireless access and content providers in domestic markets. In South Asia, in particular, more people own a mobile phone than a PC, giving the delivery of mobile data services huge potential there.

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 serious decline. Activity in the fixed voice market has simply been overwhelmed and overshadowed by the frenzied activity in the energetic and expanding mobile market. This 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. Most significantly, there are no indications of this market recovering in the short to medium term.

Finally it is noted that, whilst there are broad market commonalities across the region, there are nevertheless trends that are specific to each individual country in Asia depending on such factors as the level of technology adoption, level of foreign investment, the presence of government intervention and competition, etc. For the majority of the markets, we have attempted to address some of these issues in the notes presented with the forecasts.

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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