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Asia - Mobile, Broadband and Digital Economy

This report provides an overview of the trends and developments in the mobile, broadband and the digital economy of the major markets of the Asian region. Subjects covered include:

  • Market overview and statistics on the major markets of the Asian telecommunication sectors;
  • Industry and market overviews of the major markets;
  • Infrastructure developments - Fibre, IP and NGNs;
  • Mobile communications overview and statistics;
  • Broadband (DSL, FttH, cable modem and wireless);
  • Digital media, e-commerce, e-government, e-health and e-education trends and statistics.Researcher:- Lisa Hulme-Jones, Peter EvansCurrent publication date:- April 2010 (15th Edition)Next publication date:- April 2011


Mobile markets in Asia have continued experiencing rapid growth during 2009, despite many countries close to or over the 90% penetration mark. A combined total of close to 1.9 billion mobile subscribers and an average annual growth of over 30% (excluding the highly penetrated markets) has resulted in the Asia region having the fastest growing telecommunications markets in the world. Particularly relevant are India and China where monthly net additions are regularly over 10 million subscribers. These two countries combined account for over 57% of overall market share in the Asia-Pacific region.

There is still room for substantial growth and markets with large populations and relatively low penetration rates such as India, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Vietnam and Indonesia will continue to grow at a rapid rate. Growth is being driven by various factors, including government investment to drive the economy; infrastructure building or fixing the after-effects of war as well as major foreign investment projects.

In developing economies, quick and easy mobile uptake is the preferred, and often the only, option for subscribers exacerbated by low fixed-line deployments. In order to prevent ARPU slide, operators are developing 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.

Asia makes a strong claim to be leading the world when it comes to the development of broadband Internet. In fact, after the mobile market, broadband has been the fastest growing telecom market segment in Asia. The energetic expansion of broadband, however, has remained more of a phenomenon limited to the developed economies, with narrowband dial-up access continuing to be the norm in most of the poorer developing countries of the region.

With DSL dominating the world market, Asia has become the leading region with about 38% of the global DSL subscribers. More recently, we have seen the advent of FttH as an alternative platform for broadband access in Asia. In the leading technology markets of Japan and South Korea, FttH has already started displacing other forms of high speed Internet access. Of these, South Korea is the most remarkable example of the Asian broadband revolution. With a broadband subscriber penetration of over 32%, close to 85% of households in the country have a high speed broadband Internet connection.

The growth of wireless Internet in Asia is being driven by competition in the market place and by the advent of 3G and 3.5G services. The roll-out of 3G networks in particular, saw 3G commercial networks operating in 17 countries across the region and by mid-2009 servicing 170 million subscribers.

Market competition has been driving 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.

Japan’s four main mobile operators, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI (au), Softbank Mobile and eMobile - plan to invest up to ¥1 trillion (US$10 billion) into so-called ‘3.9G’ mobile services, offering end users the prospect of even better and faster options than they have today.

After a somewhat tentative start, wireless broadband access in its various forms is starting to take hold in Asia. This has seen a flurry of activity as operators rush to acquire the necessary frequency licences. The sector had experienced problems earlier on involving unreliable equipment and network design faults. These have become things of the past. The challenge still facing the industry, however, is to establish viable business models that allow wireless to compete with the more established service offerings - DSL and cable modem platforms in the case of fixed wireless broadband and next generation mobile telephony platforms in the case of mobile wireless broadband. Wireless broadband systems are expected to eventually become a key feature of the broadband access landscape across Asia. Apart from WiFi and WiMAX platforms, wireless technologies include LMDS and MMDS. For some years now, despite high equipment prices and security issues inhibiting adoption, wireless broadband services have been appearing in a piecemeal fashion across the region, notably in airport lounges, transport hubs and hotels, particularly offering mobile travellers immediate broadband connectivity. While there has been some activity in the providing of WiMAX networks, the real test will be the advent of mobile WiMAX. The initial roll-out of mobile WiMAX in Asia has begun but it has been a cautious start. The technology continues to be strongly supported at this stage of its development. The big question is whether it will become a mass market platform or simply satisfy a niche market need. Over a number of decades the economies of Asia have progressively built substantial fixed-line national networks followed by national mobile networks. By mid-2009, Asia had infrastructure in place supporting a total of more than 2.4 billion telephone subscribers; of these, around 570 million were fixed-line subscribers, the remainder of course being mobile subscribers. More recently the focus of infrastructure building has shifted to the upgrading of domestic telecoms networks to NGNs. Basically, this process is seeing large scale investment by Asia’s leading telecoms markets in new-generation IP-based telecommunications networks. Those countries that have government backing for NGN roll-out are the ones that are setting the pace. Even some of the lesser-developed markets are pushing hard on this front. In addition to the national networks, international connectivity remains central to the overall effectiveness of the region’s telecommunications services. Submarine cable routes criss-cross the Asia-Pacific area, providing both intra-regional and inter-regional networks. More recently it has been recognised that investments need to be more focused on growth and less speculative. Starting in 2007 and continuing on into 2009, a series of new submarine cable projects were being proposed and installed throughout the region, mainly trans-Pacific networks aimed at a particular predicted shortfall in capacity between Asia and the US as Asia’s broadband usage started to rapidly increase. However, it was not certain that all these projects would come to fruition, as their respective business cases underwent close scrutiny. The impact of the global financial crisis also needs to be assessed by prospective investors. It is estimated that Asia needs to invest at least US$1 trillion in new infrastructure over the next ten years to meet projected demand. Asia-Pacific’s financial systems experienced a severe shock during the 1997 financial crisis, which originated in Thailand and spread across the region, resulting in slumping economic growth and a withdrawal of foreign direct investment. Following this, the region made strenuous efforts to improve financial oversight and reduce national debt to avoid a recurrence of the fiscal crisis. The region is therefore better placed to withstand the 2007/08 global financial crisis, although it will still experience an economic slowdown in line with the global downturn. The global financial crisis that began in mid-2007 and worsened in October 2008 resulted in major falls in the US stock market. Asia-Pacific markets are closely tied to those of the USA, particularly those of the more industrialised countries, and therefore suffered similar losses. However, since Asia’s financial systems are relatively resilient, the greater effect will be felt on the real economy, particularly since the negative impact of the crisis will exacerbate existing trends of worsening fiscal deficits and currency weakness. Economic growth will slow across the region, although India and China will retain relatively higher rates of growth. Of the Asian economies, Japan will be the worst affected, owing to the fact that its export-oriented economy has been badly hit by the global slowdown, as well as historical problems with economic growth and deflation. The export-orientated economies of Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea will also be badly affected, all expecting growth of only 2.0% in 2009. Some insulation will be provided by ongoing strong economic growth in India and China, which are forecast to grow by 6.3% and 8.5% respectively in 2009, from 7.8% and 9.7% in 2008. Individual countries are introducing fiscal packages to provide economic stimulus. In December 2008 Japan announced a ¥23 trillion fiscal aid package, including tax breaks and assistance to struggling financial institutions. In November 2008 China announced a fiscal stimulus package, cutting taxes and funding infrastructure programmes to increase employment and income growth. Asia-Pacific’s strong economic growth slowed in 2009 as the combination of lower export demand, remittances and foreign direct investment weighed on prospects for job creation and wage growth. A recovery is expected in 2010 in line with a gradual global upturn. Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

1. Next Generation Telecoms, FttH and Trans-sector Strategies
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Japan’s New Generation Network (NWGN)
1.3 Singapore’s NGN
1.3.1 Planning phase
1.3.2 Proposal phase
1.3.3 Network Company (NetCo)
1.3.4 Operating Company (OpCo)
1.4 Malaysia’s national broadband network
1.5 Hong Kong’s Digital 21 IT Strategy
2. Broadband Market
2.1 Overview
2.2 DSL
2.2.1 Hong Kong
2.3 Cable Modem
2.3.1 China
2.3.2 Japan
2.4 FttH
2.4.1 Market overview
2.4.2 China
2.4.3 Japan
3. Mobile Communications - Statistics, Trends & Forecasts
3.1 Introduction
3.1.1 Overview
3.2 China
3.2.1 Overview
3.2.2 Mobile statistics
3.3 Hong Kong
3.3.1 Overview
3.3.2 Mobile statistics
3.4 Japan
3.4.1 Overview
3.4.2 Mobile statistics
3.5 Malaysia
3.5.1 Overview
3.5.2 Mobile statistics
3.6 South Korea
3.6.1 Overview
3.6.2 Mobile statistics
3.7 Singapore
3.7.1 Overview
3.7.2 Mobile statistics
3.8 Taiwan
3.8.1 Overview
3.8.2 Mobile statistics
3.9 Thailand
3.9.1 Overview
3.9.2 Mobile statistics
4. Wireless Broadband Statistics and Trends
4.1 Introduction
4.1.1 4G developments
4.1.2 Asia market overview
4.2 Japan
4.2.1 Overview
4.2.2 Third Generation (3G) mobile
4.2.3 Fourth Generation (4G) mobile
4.2.4 Japan - a key region for LTE development
4.2.5 Earthquake alerts
4.2.6 Personal trainer
4.2.7 Environmental sensors
4.3 South Korea
4.3.1 Overview
4.3.2 Next Generation Mobile Networks - statistics
4.3.3 Third Generation (3G) mobile in South Korea
4.3.4 Fourth Generation (4G) mobile in South Korea
4.3.5 Mobile TV
4.4 Taiwan
4.4.1 Overview
4.4.2 Next Generation Mobile Networks - statistics
4.4.3 Mobile TV
4.5 Singapore
4.5.1 Overview
4.5.2 Mobile TV
4.6 Malaysia
4.6.1 Overview
4.6.2 Mobile TV
4.7 China
4.7.1 Overview
4.7.2 Mobile TV
4.8 India
4.8.1 Overview
4.8.2 3G mobile
4.8.3 Mobile TV
5. Digital Economy, E-Commerce, M-Commerce Trends and Statistics
5.1 Introduction to the digital economy
5.1.1 Infrastructure essential for the digital economy
5.2 South Korea
5.2.1 M-commerce/m-payment
5.2.2 Mobile banking
5.2.3 E-commerce
5.2.4 E-cash
5.2.5 E-banking
5.3 Japan
5.3.1 M-commerce/m-cash
5.3.2 M-banking
5.3.3 E-commerce
5.3.4 E-cash
5.3.5 E-banking
5.4 China
5.4.1 E-services
5.4.2 E-commerce
5.4.3 M-commerce
5.4.4 Mobile micropayments
6. Digital Economy, E-Government, E-Health and E-Education Trends
6.1 Introduction
6.1.1 E-government overview
6.2 Singapore
6.2.1 E-government
6.3 Malaysia
6.3.1 E-government
6.4 Pakistan
6.4.1 E-government
6.5 Philippines
6.5.1 E-government
6.6 Indonesia
6.6.1 E-Indonesia Project
6.6.2 E-health
6.7 Sri Lanka
6.7.1 E-government
6.8 Taiwan
6.8.1 e-Taiwan
6.8.2 E-government
6.8.3 E-health
6.9 China
6.9.1 E-services overview
6.9.2 E-education
6.10 South Korea
6.10.1 E-government
6.11 Japan
6.11.1 E-government
7. Digital Media Advertising Marketing
7.1 Introduction
7.1.1 Market overview
7.2 Advertising and marketing in selected Asian markets
7.2.1 China
7.2.2 Hong Kong
7.2.3 Japan
8. Digital Media Entertainment Trends and Statistics
8.1 Introduction
8.2 Growth continues for IPTV - market overview and statistics
8.2.1 Introduction
8.2.2 The future of IPTV
8.2.3 The telcos’ triple play model has failed
8.2.4 IPTV case studies in Aisa
8.3 China and Internet entertainment
8.3.1 E-Entertainment
8.3.2 Social networking
9. Glossary of Abbreviations
Table 1 - Broadband in Asia - major markets by subscribers and penetration - 2009
Table 2 - Major broadband access types by subscribers and share of world market in Asia - June 2009
Table 3 - DSL subscriber growth in leading Asian markets - 2006 - 2009
Table 4 - DSL subscribers in Hong Kong - 1999 - 2009
Table 5 - Broadband subscribers by operator in Hong Kong - 2007 - 2009
Table 6 - Cable modem Internet subscribers and annual change in China - 2001 - 2008
Table 7 - FttB and FttH subscribers in China - 2006 - 2012
Table 8 - FttH subscribers and market share by operator in Japan - June 2009
Table 9 - Carrier share of FttH subscribers in Japan - 2005 - 2010
Table 10 - Change in ARPU from FttH in Japan - 2005 - 2009
Table 11 - FttH broadband subscribers in Japan - 2002 - 2010
Table 12 - Ten fastest growing mobile markets in Asia - March 2009
Table 13 - Mobile subscribers in Asia - 1990 - 2010
Table 14 - Mobile subscribers and annual change in China - 1995 - 2011
Table 15 - Prepaid mobile subscribers by operator in China - September 2009
Table 16 - China Unicom postpaid versus prepaid mobile subscribers by network - 2004 - 2009
Table 17 - China Mobile postpaid versus prepaid mobile subscribers - 2004 - 2009
Table 18 - Mobile subscribers and annual change in Hong Kong - 1992 - 2020
Table 19 - Mobile data usage in Hong Kong - 2002 - 2009
Table 20 - MVNO subscribers in Hong Kong - 2005 - 2009
Table 21 - Total mobile numbers ported in Hong Kong - 1999 - 2009
Table 22 - Prepaid and activated SIM cards in Hong Kong - 1997 - 2009
Table 23 - 3G mobile subscribers in Hong Kong - 2005 - 2010
Table 24 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Japan - 1995 - 2010; 2015; 2020
Table 25 - Japan 3G subscribers - 2004 - 2010; 2015; 2020
Table 26 - 3G mobile subscribers by operator in Japan - November 2009
Table 27 - Market share of 3G mobile operators in Japan - June 2009
Table 28 - Mobile subscribers, ARPU and churn by operator in Japan - 2004 - 2009
Table 29 - Mobile wireless Internet subscribers - 2000 - 2009
Table 30 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Malaysia - 1994 - 2010
Table 31 - Mobile services revenues in Malaysia - 1993 - 2009
Table 32 - 3G mobile subscribers and market share in Malaysia - 2006 - 2009
Table 33 - Mobile subscribers in South Korea - 1985 - 2011
Table 34 - Mobile subscribers and market share by operator in South Korea - 2009
Table 35 - Blended mobile ARPU by operator in South Korea - Q2 2009
Table 36 - WCDMA subscribers by operator in South Korea - September 2009
Table 37 - Mobile market statistics in Singapore - January 2010
Table 38 - Mobile subscribers in Singapore - 2001 - 2011
Table 39 - Mobile services revenue in Singapore - 2000 - 2009
Table 40 - 3G mobile subscribers in Singapore - 2005 - 2011
Table 41 - Overall mobile services ARPU in Singapore - 2002 - 2009
Table 42 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Taiwan - 2000 - 2020
Table 43 - 3G mobile subscribers and market share in Taiwan - 2003 - 2020
Table 44 - 2G and 3G mobile services ARPU in Taiwan - 2005 - 2008
Table 45 - Prepaid 2G subscribers in Taiwan - market share - 2000 - 2008
Table 46 - Mobile Internet subscribers in Taiwan - 2001 - 2008
Table 47 - Mobile subscribers in Thailand - 2000 - 2011
Table 48 - Mobile services revenue and ARPU in Thailand - 2000 - 2009
Table 49 - Mobile operators, subscribers and market share in Thailand - March 2009
Table 50 - Top three countries worldwide for mobile data revenues - 1H 2008
Table 51 - 3G WCDMA subscribers in Asia - 2004 - 2009
Table 52 - Asia - WCDMA 3G subscribers by country - March 2009
Table 53 - Mobile wireless Internet subscribers by providers in Japan - 2008
Table 54 - Mobile wireless Internet subscribers in Japan - 2000 - 2008
Table 55 - 3G mobile subscribers by operator in Japan - November 2009
Table 56 - Market share of 3G mobile operators in Japan - June 2009
Table 57 - Japan 3G subscribers and penetration - 2004 - 2010; 2015; 2020
Table 58 - WCDMA subscribers by operator in South Korea - September 2009
Table 59 - Mobile data service revenue as % of total mobile revenue in Taiwan - 2001 - 2008
Table 60 - Mobile Internet subscribers in Taiwan - 2001 - 2008
Table 61 - 3G mobile subscribers and market share in Taiwan - 2003 - 2010; 2015; 2020
Table 62 - 3G mobile subscribers and market share by operator in Taiwan - June 2009
Table 63 - Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change in Taiwan - June 2009
Table 64 - Mobile TV trial broadcasters in Taiwan
Table 65 - 3G mobile subscribers in Singapore - 2005 - 2011
Table 66 - 3G mobile subscribers by operator in Singapore - 2009
Table 67 - Total SMS messages per month in Singapore - 2004 - 2009
Table 68 - 3G mobile subscribers and market share in Malaysia - 2006 - 2009
Table 69 - 3G mobile subscribers & market share by operator in Malaysia - March 2009
Table 70 - Global mobile data revenues - top three countries - 1H 2009
Table 71 - China Mobile mobile data service user growth - 2004 - 2009
Table 72 - China Mobile and China Unicom mobile VAS revenue - 2008
Table 73 - China Mobile Value Added Business revenue breakdown - 2006 - 2008
Table 74 - China Mobile VAS revenue breakdown (selected items) - 2006 - 2008
Table 75 - China Mobile VAS subscribers (selected items) - 2006 - 2008
Table 76 - E-commerce volume in South Korea - 2001 - 2008
Table 77 - E-commerce volume by transaction type in South Korea - 2001 - 2007
Table 78 - Purchase items by Internet shopping in South Korea - 2008
Table 79 - Internet banking service subscribers in South Korea - 2001 - 2008
Table 80 - Financial service by delivery channel in South Korea - 2005 - 2008
Table 81 - Estimated value of B2C e-commerce market in China - 2004 - 2006; 2010
Table 82 - Advertising market in China - Q3 2008
Table 83 - Online retail market revenue in China - 2003 - 2008
Table 84 - Breakdown of e-commerce users in China - 2008
Table 85 - Market share of online search engines in China - 2005 - 2009
Table 86 - Top 10 online advertising brands in Hong Kong - Q1 2008
Table 87 - Advertising expenditures by medium in Japan - 2006 - 2008
Table 88 - Advertising ratio by medium in Japan - 2006 - 2008
Table 89 - IPTV subscribers in China - 2004 - 2012
Table 90 - PCCW NOW TV subscribers and ARPU in Hong Kong - 2003 - 2009
Table 91 - Online gaming revenues in China - 2004 - 2008
Exhibit 1 - ITU definition of a Next Generation Network
Exhibit 2 - Differences between NXGN and NWGN
Exhibit 3 - Structure of Singapore’s NBN - May 2009
Exhibit 4 - Asia’s broadband - markets ranked by household penetration - June 2009
Exhibit 5 - Restructuring of China’s Telecommunications Industry
Exhibit 6 - Definition: Personal Wireless Broadband
Exhibit 7 - Long-term evolution (LTE) roadmap in Japan - 2008 - 2012
Exhibit 8 - Singapore - top global ranking in e-government
Exhibit 9 - IPTV applications
Exhibit 10 - Top IPTV carriers worldwide - 2008
Exhibit 11 - BesTV Corporation

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