This report provides 262 tables of mobile communications statistics covering 34 countries in Asia. Data for North Korea has not been included due to its paucity and unreliability.
After a period in which Asia’s mobile industry has been one of the largest and fastest-growing markets in the world, in relative terms a slowdown has occurred, especially in many of the leading national markets in the region. By September 2007, the region had amassed 1.25 billion mobile subscribers. After a period where annual subscriber growth rates have been well in excess of 50%, the rate has slowed to between 20% and 30% and was running at around 26% coming into 2008. At the same time, overall regional penetration had reached 34%, suggesting that there was still a lot more room for growth in markets throughout the region. By September 2007, Asia was home to just over 40% of the world’s 3.3 billion mobile subscribers.
There have also been a number of newcomers to the surging mobile growth pattern in Asia, notably Pakistan and Bangladesh, with markets expanding by 103% and 104% respectively in 2006. Then, there were the ‘surprise packets’, the Central Asian markets, which had a group of stand-out performers coming into 2007. While obviously coming off low subscriber bases, growth rates in this sub-region were being headed up by Turkmenistan (147%) and Uzbekistan (137%).
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 SMS. It also offered a useful test bed in the lead up to the introduction and development of 3G services in their various forms. The innovation continued with DoCoMo launching its mobile credit card service in early 2006. By 2007, Asia was also looking enthusiastically at such developments as mobile TV.
Each country’s mobile telephone environment is characterised in its own unique way. However, across Asia, certain consistent patterns have emerged:
opening up of local markets with the awarding of licences to new mobile operators;
incumbent telecom operators achieving high growth as they worked to win larger market share before new operators built their networks and launched their services;
as the new operators started expanding, highly competitive markets resulted, with corresponding decreases in tariffs and increase in value added services;
falling ARPU for basic mobile services;
increasing ARPU for value-added mobile services.
Growth has been spurred by industry deregulation, liberalised foreign ownership laws and the ability to build networks rapidly and economically. A significant fall in the cost of handsets has also contributed to strong growth. The launch of new entrants and fierce competition in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand has resulted in many benefits flowing to customers, including better service and lower prices.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.