The report has gathered together a selection of information about each of these many operators.
The range of information presented in the text, and where appropriate in tables, includes:
This market report provides a wide-ranging review of mobile operators across the Asian region. The overview covers around 170 operators that were to be found in Asia in 2010. There was a combined total of close to 2.1 billion mobile subscribers being served by these operators going into 2010 and this is expected to reach a total of over 2.5 billion by year end. The list of operators ranges from the giant China Mobile with more than 500 million subscribers right through to a number of small operators with only a few thousand subscribers each. It is noted that of the region’s operators just 15 of these have a combined share of around 68% of the regional mobile market. BuddeComm’s overview of operators in the region does not claim to present an exhaustive list of licensed operators but it certainly is indicative of the breadth and variety of operator to be found in the region. It also reflects the highly competitive nature of the mobile sector in this region.
The focus of this report is on the operators within the individual national markets. Of course, in addition to these individual operators there are those companies such as SingTel, Vodafone, Hutchison and Axiata (formerly Telekom Malaysia International) that have built a substantial presence around the region through their shareholdings in operators in multiple markets. This aspect of these corporations is not discussed in any detail but is mentioned in passing in the country by country review.
The table below shows the top 15 operators as ranked by subscribers at December 2009. The list has remained relatively stable over the last year or so. Compared to the top 15 at the end of 2007, SK Telecom has dropped off the list and Viettel has come in at number 11 on the table.
Top 15 mobile operators in Asia (by subscribers) - 2009
Rank Operator Country Subscribers (million)
1 China Mobile China 522.3
2 China Unicom China 147.6
3 Bharti India 118.9
4 Reliance Communications India 96.0
5 Vodafone Essar1 India 90.0
6 Telkomsel Indonesia 76.0
7 BSNL India 63.0
8 Idea Cellular India 57.0
9 China Telecom China 56.1
10 NTT DoCoMo Japan 55.4
11 Viettel Vietnam 45.0
12 Smart Communications Philippines 41.0
13 KDDI Japan 31.4
14 PMCL Pakistan 30.8
15 Indosat Indonesia 30.0
(Source: BuddeComm based on Global Mobile data), Note: 1Formerly Hutchison.
With the progressive opening up of markets to more competition, we have seen the licensing of more and more operators in the various countries of the region. One phenomenon in Asia has been the granting of a significant number of mobile operator licences in what have been regarded as smaller markets, ie with relatively low populations as well as low income per capita. We have seen this occur for example in Cambodia, Laos and Georgia. Cambodia has been the standout market in this regard; with the licensing of Vimpelcom in 2009 this market had nine mobile operators for a country whose population was just under 15 million and GDP per capita was less than US$800. The market in Vietnam also became more competitive in 2009 with the arrival of the VimpelCom-backed GTEL-Mobile, the number of operators in Vietnam jumping to seven as a result. No doubt markets like Cambodia and Vietnam will need to go through some form of market rationalisation in the future.
There are only a handful of countries that still cling to a single state-owned incumbent structure today. Typically markets are characterised by a number of operators in each market competing on price, service quality, service offering and other market areas to win market share, build customer bases and healthy businesses. We have seen markets like India where some rather complex licensing systems saw dozens of operators enter the market; this was followed by a period of market rationalisation, which it is generally agreed ultimately produced a highly effective commercial environment. Similar processes have taken place right across the region.
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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