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Asia Mobile Operators


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

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:

  • brief history of the company;
  • corporate and business structure;
  • subscriber growth;
  • some information on financial performance;
  • market position.It is noted that the information provided varies from market to market and operator to operator, depending very much on the availability of statistics and corporate reports.
  • In some markets we also provide an overall review of the market in which we find these operators; this overview includes such statistical information as market share and Average Revenue per User (ARPU) if available. Within the background information we have also reported on the mergers and acquisition that have been part of a transformational market.
The countries covered in this report include:

Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, East Timor, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.


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.

1. Afghanistan
1.1 Mobile operator statistics
1.1.1 Afghan Wireless (AWCC)
1.1.2 Roshan
1.1.3 Areeba / MTN
1.1.4 Etisalat
2. Armenia
2.1 Mobile operator statistics
2.2 Major mobile operators
2.2.1 ArmenTel (ArmGSM)
2.2.2 K-Telecom (VivaCell)
2.2.3 Orange Armenia
3. Azerbaijan
3.1 Mobile operator statistics
3.2 Major mobile operators
3.2.1 Azercell
3.2.2 Bakcell
3.2.3 Azerfon (Nar Mobile)
3.2.4 Catel
4. Bangladesh
4.1 Mobile operator statistics
4.2 Major mobile operators
4.2.1 CityCell (PBTL)
4.2.2 GrameenPhone
4.2.3 Orascom Telecom (formerly Banglalink / Sheba Telecom)
4.2.4 Axiata (Bangladesh) (formerlyTMIB / AkTel)
4.2.5 Teletalk
4.2.6 Warid Telecom
5. Bhutan
5.1 Mobile operator statistics
5.2 Major mobile operators
5.2.1 B-Mobile
5.2.2 Tashi InfoComm
6. Brunei Darussalam
6.1 Mobile operator statistics
6.2 Major mobile operators
6.2.1 DSTCom
6.2.2 B-Mobile (TelBru)
7. Cambodia
7.1 Mobile operator statistics
7.2 Major mobile operators
7.2.1 Cambodia GSM (MobiTel)
7.2.2 CamShin
7.2.3 TMIC
7.2.4 AZ Communications
7.2.5 Viettel
7.2.6 Applifone (Star Cell)
7.2.7 CadComms
7.2.8 GT-Tell
7.2.9 Smart Mobile (Latelz)
7.2.10 VimpelCom
8. China
8.1 Mobile operator statistics
8.2 Overview of major operators
8.2.1 2002 industry restructure
8.2.2 Drivers for further business restructuring in China
8.2.3 2008 industry restructure
8.2.4 Newly Formed Entities
8.3 China Mobile Ltd (CML)
8.3.1 Company overview
8.3.2 Financial and operating highlights - Annual Report 2008
8.3.3 Recent developments
8.3.4 China Tietong (merged into China Mobile)
8.4 China Telecom
8.4.1 Company overview
8.4.2 Financial and operating highlights - Annual Report 2008
8.4.3 Recent developments
8.4.4 China Satcom (merged into China Telecom)
8.5 China Unicom
8.5.1 Company overview
8.5.2 Financial and operating highlights - Annual Report 2008
8.5.3 Recent developments
8.5.4 China Netcom (merged into China Unicom)
9. Georgia
9.1 Mobile operator statistics
9.1.1 Impact of the conflict with Russia
9.2 Major mobile operators
9.2.1 Geocell
9.2.2 MagtiCom
9.2.3 Mobitel
10. Hong Kong
10.1 Mobile operator statistics
10.2 Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) services
10.3 Sunday / PCCW
10.4 Hutchison Telecom
10.5 CSL New World
10.5.1 Hong Kong CSL
10.5.2 New World Mobility
10.5.3 CSL New World Mobility Group
10.6 Peoples (China Resources Peoples Telephone Co Ltd)
10.7 SmarTone-Vodafone
11. India
11.1 Overview of major mobile operators
11.1.1 Unified Access Service Licences (UASL)
11.2 Market structure and earlier growth
11.2.1 Telecom circles
11.2.2 Mergers and acquisitions
11.2.3 BSNL / MTNL
11.2.4 MVNO licences
11.3 Mobile operator statistics
11.4 Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL)
11.4.1 Overview
11.4.2 Proposed Initial Public Offering (IPO)
11.4.3 Historical development
11.4.4 3G development
11.5 Bharti Airtel
11.5.1 Overview
11.5.2 ARPU
11.5.3 Corporate structure
11.5.4 Historical development
11.5.5 Key strategic decisions
11.5.6 3G plans
11.6 Loop Mobile (formerly BPL Mobile)
11.6.1 Overview
11.6.2 Corporate structure and development
11.7 Vodafone Essar (formerly Hutchison Essar Telecom Ltd)
11.7.1 Overview
11.7.2 ARPU
11.7.3 Corporate structure
11.7.4 Historical development
11.7.5 Key strategic decisions
11.7.6 3G plans
11.8 Aircel
11.8.1 Overview
11.8.2 Corporate structure
11.8.3 Historical development
11.9 Idea Cellular
11.9.1 Overview
11.9.2 ARPU
11.9.3 Corporate structure
11.9.4 Historical development
11.10 Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL)
11.10.1 Overview
11.10.2 Historical development
11.11 Reliance Communications
11.11.1 Overview
11.11.2 ARPU
11.11.3 Corporate structure
11.11.4 Historical development
11.11.5 3G
11.12 Spice Telecom
11.12.1 Overview
11.12.2 Corporate structure
11.12.3 Historical development
11.13 Tata Teleservices
11.13.1 Overview
11.13.2 Corporate structure
11.13.3 Historical development
11.14 Virgin Mobile
11.15 New operators
11.15.1 Datacom
11.15.2 Unitech Wireless / Uninor
11.15.3 S Tel
11.15.4 Others
12. Indonesia
12.1 Mobile operator statistics
12.2 PT Telkomsel
12.2.1 Overview
12.2.2 Corporate structure
12.2.3 Operational statistics
12.2.4 Business strategies
12.2.5 Development of products and services
12.3 PT Indosat
12.3.1 Overview
12.3.2 Corporate structure
12.3.3 Operational statistics
12.3.4 Business and network strategies
12.3.5 PT Satelindo
12.3.6 IM3 Indosat
12.4 XL Axiata (formerly PT Excelcomindo Pratama)
12.4.1 Overview
12.4.2 Corporate structure
12.4.3 Business and network strategies
12.5 PT Sampoerna Telekomunikasi Indonesia (STI)
12.6 Mobile-8
12.7 Axis / Natrindo Telepon Selular
12.8 PT Hutchison CP Telecommunications
12.9 Smart Telecom
13. Japan
13.1 Overview of major mobile operators
13.2 Mobile operator statistics
13.3 Market developments
13.4 New entrants into the mobile market
13.5 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO)
13.6 Differentiation efforts
13.7 NTT DoCoMo
13.8 KDDI au and Tu-KA Mobile Business
13.9 Softbank
13.9.1 Vodafone K.K. (formerly J-Phone)
13.10 eMobile
13.11 Willcom (DDI Pocket)
14. Kazakhstan
14.1 Mobile operator statistics
14.2 Major mobile operators
14.2.1 Altel
14.2.2 GSM-Kazakhstan (K’Cell)
14.2.3 Kar-Tel (K-Mobile)
14.2.4 Mobile Telecom Service (NeoTelecom)
15. Kyrgyzstan
15.1 Mobile operator statistics
15.2 Major mobile operators
15.2.1 MegaCom (BiMoCom Ltd)
15.2.2 Bitel/Sky Mobile
15.2.3 Aktel
15.2.4 Katel
16. Laos
16.1 Mobile operator statistics
16.2 Major mobile operators
16.2.1 Lao Telecommunications Company
16.2.2 Enterprise of Telecommunications Lao (ETL)
16.2.3 Tigo (Millicom)
16.2.4 Star Telecom (formerly Lao Asia Telecom (LAT))
16.2.5 Sky Telecom
17. Macau
17.1 Mobile operator statistics
17.2 Major mobile operators
17.2.1 CTM
17.2.2 Hutchison Telecom Macau
17.2.3 SmarTone Mobile Communications (Macau) Ltd
17.2.4 China Unicom
18. Malaysia
18.1 Mobile statistics
18.2 Telekom Malaysia
18.2.1 Telecom Malaysia International
18.3 Celcom
18.3.1 Telekom Malaysia / Celcom merger
18.3.2 Listing
18.4 Digi Communications
18.5 Maxis Communications
18.6 Time dotCom
18.6.1 Maxis/Time merger
18.7 U Mobile
19. Maldives
19.1 Mobile operator statistics
19.2 Major mobile operators
19.2.1 Dhiraagu (DhiMobile)
19.2.2 Wataniya Telecom
20. Mongolia
20.1 Mobile operator statistics
20.2 Major mobile operators
20.2.1 MobiCom
20.2.2 SkyTel
20.2.3 Unitel
20.2.4 G-Mobile
21. Myanmar
21.1 Mobile operator statistics
21.2 Mobile Operator
21.2.1 Myanmar P&T (MPT)
22. Nepal
22.1 Mobile operator statistics
22.2 Major mobile operators
22.2.1 Nepal Telecom
22.2.2 Spice Nepal Pvt Ltd (SNPL)
23. Pakistan
23.1 Mobile operator statistics
23.2 Major mobile operators
23.2.1 Mobilink (PMCL)
23.2.2 Instaphone (Pakcom)
23.2.3 Ufone (PTCL)
23.2.4 Telenor Pakistan
23.2.5 Warid Telecom
23.2.6 Zong (formerly CMPak)
24. Philippines
24.1 Overview
24.2 Mobile operator statistics
24.3 Globe Telecom
24.4 Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT)
24.4.1 Smart Communications
24.4.2 Talk ‘N Text (TNT) (formerly Piltel)
24.4.3 Umobile (CURE)
24.4.4 ACeS Philippines
24.5 Extelcom
24.6 Digitel/Sun Cellular
24.7 BellTel
25. Singapore
25.1 Overview of major mobile operators
25.2 Mobile operator statistics
25.3 SingTel Mobile
25.3.1 Overview
25.3.2 Operating statistics
25.3.3 Business strategy - 3G
25.3.4 Development of products and services - 2009
25.4 MobileOne
25.4.1 Overview
25.4.2 Operating statistics
25.4.3 Business strategies
25.4.4 Network development
25.4.5 Development of products and services - 2009
25.5 StarHub
25.5.1 Overview
25.5.2 Operating statistics
25.5.3 Business strategies
25.5.4 Network developments
25.5.5 Development of products and services
26. South Korea
26.1 Mobile operator statistics
26.2 Overview of major mobile operators
26.3 SK Telecom
26.3.1 Merger with Shinsegi Telecom
26.4 KTF
26.4.1 KT ICOM
26.4.2 KT M.Com / Hansol M.Com
26.5 LG Telecom
26.6 MVNOs
27. Sri Lanka
27.1 Mobile operator statistics
27.1.1 3G mobile
27.2 Dialog Telekom (MTN)
27.2.1 Company overview
27.2.2 Products and services
27.3 Mobitel
27.3.1 Company overview
27.3.2 Products and services
27.4 Tigo (formerly Celltel Lanka)
27.4.1 Company overview
27.4.2 Products and services
27.5 Hutchison Lanka
27.6 Bharti Airtel Lanka
28. Taiwan
28.1 Overview
28.1.1 Mobile operator comparison
28.1.2 Net additions per mobile operator comparison
28.1.3 ARPU per mobile operator comparison
28.1.4 3G mobile operator comparison
28.2 Chunghwa Telecom Co Ltd (CHT)
28.2.1 CHT statistics
28.2.2 CHT - mobile network - overview
28.2.3 CHT - mobile network - 3G
28.2.4 CHT - mobile network - partnerships
28.3 Far EasTern Telecommunications Group
28.3.1 Far EasTone - background
28.3.2 Far EasTone - financials
28.3.3 Far EasTone - subscribers
28.4 Taiwan Mobile (formerly Taiwan Cellular)
28.4.1 Taiwan Mobile - background
28.4.2 Taiwan Mobile - financials
28.4.3 Taiwan Mobile - subscribers
28.4.4 Taiwan Fixed Network Telecom
28.5 VIBO Telecom
29. Tajikistan
29.1 Mobile operator statistics
29.2 Major mobile operators
29.2.1 Babilon Mobile
29.2.2 Indigo Tajikistan
29.2.3 Somoncom
29.2.4 Tacom
29.2.5 TK Mobile
29.2.6 TT Mobile
30. Thailand
30.1 Operating environment
30.2 Mobile operator statistics
30.3 Advanced Info Service (AIS)
30.3.1 Overview and statistics
30.3.2 3G strategy
30.4 DTAC
30.4.1 Overview and statistics
30.4.2 3G strategy
30.5 True Move
30.5.1 Overview and statistics
30.5.2 3G strategy
30.5.3 PCT network
30.6 Hutchison CAT
30.6.1 Overview and statistics

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