Asia - Mobile Infrastructure and Mobile Broadband

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Last updated: 10 Aug 2022 Update History

Report Status: Current

Report Pages: 672

Asia’s mobile broadband adoption powers ahead but network operators struggle to see adequate returns

The level of uptake of mobile broadband services across Asia tends to be roughly correlated with the coverage achieved by 4G LTE (and more recently 5G) networks, which have the speed and capacity to support the data rates necessary for consumers to enjoy a positive broadband experience. Countries with widespread coverage are seeing penetration rates approach saturation point, forcing network operators to search for new and more innovative ways to increase ARPU in order to generate a return on their investment in the network infrastructure as well as the spectrum licenses. Flat or declining revenues – despite an insatiable appetite to consume as much data as is available – means that the breakeven point for LTE networks is still some years away. This is providing something of a cautionary tale around the potential launch of 5G in many markets, especially with a clear killer app still waiting to be uncovered.

A second major determinant regarding the level of adoption of mobile broadband is the availability (or lack, thereof) of fixed-line broadband services. While most countries around the region are exhibiting steady progress with the rollout of fibre networks to provide backhaul, FttP or FttH services are more often limited to high-density urban areas. The oft-stated desire to achieve universal broadband availability is typically being left to the mobile network providers to deliver coverage to rural and hard-to-reach areas of the country.

The effect of the Covid-19 crisis during 2020 and 2021 on the mobile broadband segment was closely tied to its effect on the mobile segment in general, with the economic insecurity generated by job losses offset by increased requirements for people to work or school from home. That led, overall, to slower but still positive growth across Asia.

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