The Asian region has continued to experience a generally stronger run of economic growth through 2005 and into 2006. The region, however, continues to share the concerns of the rest of the world about rising oil prices and the likely impact on the global economy. There is also a degree of anxiety about a slowdown in the China. This giant growth engine has been soaking up huge volumes of exports from its neighbours. If it starts showing signs of stalling, the reverberations will be felt right across Asia.
At the same time, it can be said that the growth has been somewhat inconsistent around the region and over the various market segments. Nevertheless, a healthy positive outlook generally pervades the market. The highlights coming into 2006:
Asia’s mobile market has continued its strong overall growth pattern;
3G mobile services are being rolled out in the major markets;
Internet access is rapidly moving from dial-up to broadband access;
Asia continues to be a global leader in broadband roll-out.
In looking at the Asian telecom market, it is impossible to avoid the impact of China. With its huge population and strongly developing economy, it is a powerful presence in the region. Having rapidly moved to become the biggest mobile market in the world, China’s mobile sector has continued to expand at a rate of almost 20% per annum. China had 400 million mobile subscribers by April 2006.
Japan has been a long-time global and regional telecommunications leader. It has a reputation for innovation, regularly adding value to the telecom market. Its leadership has embraced the application of wireless Internet access, with over 79 million mobile subscribers using either NTT DoCoMo’s i-Mode or one of the other proprietary products by early 2006.
Whilst Asia’s mobile industry continues to be one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, the region’s penchant for innovation has also seen it push into new applications for the mobile telephony platform. Its venturing into wireless data services has been a case in point. But, most significantly, through the efforts of Japan and South Korea, in particular, and even China, to some extent, the region has been moving bolding into next generation mobile technologies, in both development and in application. When it comes to 3G, Asia has become the region to watch
The growth of wireless Internet in Asia is being driven by competition in the market place and by the advent of 3G services. Market competition has been driving handset prices and airtime tariffs downward, thus opening up mobile services to wider adoption.
Developed countries in the region, such as Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, are well placed to exploit the wireless Internet opportunity and lead the rest of the region into the next generation of mobile applications. Due to its large population and relatively low mobile penetration rate (24% at end-2005), the Asia region continues to have a high growth potential.