Asia - Telecom Forecasts
Fixed broadband will see strong growth in some developing Asian markets
The telecom market across Asia has an estimated total of 4.15 billion mobile subscribers by 2017. This sector of the overall market continues to experience moderate growth; however, in the more developed markets, growth is shifting away from a focus on subscriber numbers towards the expansion of new generation platforms and increased data usage driven by value-added services and increased ARPUs.
Looking over the next five years, countries with high mobile penetration rates such as Macau, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Maldives and Kazakhstan are expected to see the slowest growth over the next five years to 2021 due to the relatively high state of maturity in their markets.
There are in fact few countries left in Asia with significantly underdeveloped mobile markets and low mobile penetration rates. Further to this, some Asian countries with relatively underdeveloped telecoms markets, have mobile penetration rates which are often quite high. Compared to more advanced nations such as Japan, Sri Lanka for example has a mobile penetration rate of 127% but a fixed broadband penetration of only 4%. Many of these countries have seen their telecoms markets develop by leapfrogging past fixed broadband, directly to mobile networks which are relatively less expensive to roll out. Countries in this category with very low fixed broadband penetration such Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Cambodia will see relatively high growth rates of fixed broadband, however because fixed broadband subscriber growth is coming from such a small base, the overall increase in penetration rates with be only modest. In these markets, mobile networks are now relatively established and will be the main driver of growth over the next five years.
Only a handful of Asian countries have mobile penetration rates under 90%, these include: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. These countries are generally expected to see moderate mobile subscriber growth over the next five years, as they strive to catch up with the rest of Asia.
The expansion of broadband was for a long time a phenomenon limited to the developed economies, with narrowband dial-up access being the norm in the majority of the poorer developing countries of the region. However this has been gradually changing. In those economies, there is now increasing access to broadband, both DSL and cable modem platforms have both proved popular, with DSL establishing a clear advantage. More recently, we have seen the arrival of FttX as an alternative platform for broadband access in Asia. There also continues to be considerable activity in the broadband markets across Asia including amongst the many number of smaller countries such as Azerbaijan, Maldives and Macau.
Fixed broadband penetration is expected to only increase modestly in these markets over the next few years to 2021, while the growth will come from the less developed markets such as India. However penetration rates are never expected to reach the high levels seen in the mobile markets as these developing nations have typically bypassed fixed line access and moved directly to mobile access.
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