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Asian - Mobile Data and the Wireless Broadband Market


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This market report provides an overview of the Mobile Data and Wireless Broadband Market segment across the various markets of Asia. Some 34 Asian countries are covered in the report. It is noted that the amount of information offered is obviously dependent on the relative size of the market in each of the respective countries. The coverage in the report also results in some segment overlap as we see increased convergence in the mobile data and wireless broadband markets.


Mobile data services in AsiaWith some 1.9 billion Asians using mobile phones by June 2009, the region’s mobile markets offer huge potential for mobile data services.  

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. 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. 

Mobile data is not a new phenomenon in Asia. Regional public networks based on Mobitex technology were established in Singapore, Indonesia and South Korea. Another form of mobile data, the DataTAC network, was made available in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, with network trials in South Korea, Japan and China. The DataTAC networks established in Asia were more extensive than the corresponding networks in either Europe or the US. 

An example of widespread adoption of a particular mobile data service has been the SMS capability of GSM and other digital cellular technologies. SMS, which allows the sending and receiving of basic text messages, became very popular throughout Asia, with remarkable growth being experienced in the Philippines and Malaysia, as well as in China. 

The business plans of the majority of mobile operators have been built on the assumption that the key to further revenue growth lies in the ability to offer more Value-Added Services (VAS) and, in particular, access to the Internet. A number of technologies are competing for the region’s mobile Internet market. In Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and a number of other countries, in an effort to chase this market, offerings based on the Wireless Application Protocol standard were tried. Apart from South Korea, however, WAP failed to claim any significant share of the market. In Japan, by contrast, NTT DoCoMo launched its i-Mode service and its two rivals -SoftBank and KDDI - launched their own versions of i-Mode with dramatic success, with over 85% of mobile subscribers in Japan logging on from a mobile using one of these platforms. In fact, mobile subscribers (93 million) accessing the Internet surpass fixed line users (90 million). Another system that has supported mobile data, the GPRS, grew out of GSM. Labelled as a 2.5G technology, it has been adopted in a significant number of Asian markets. 

The widespread adoption of HSDPA, a new generation (3.5G) mobile telephone protocol, is also noted throughout Asia. It is an evolution of the WCDMA 3G standard, designed to increase the available data rate by a factor of 5 or more. In effect, it extends the capabilities of WCDMA in the same way that EV-DO extended CDMA2000, allowing higher data capacity (up to 14.4Mb/s). SK Telecom launched a commercial HSDPA network in 25 major cities in South Korea in 2006, offering customers what it claimed was the world’s first commercial HSDPA-enabled mobile handset, the Samsung SCH-W200. This was followed SmarTone-Vodafone launching a system in Hong Kong in June 2006, providing a data speed of 1.8Mb/s. Others have quickly followed. 

KTF began rolling out an upgraded HSUPA network in June 2007, for faster data transmission to attract more users of 3G mobile services. HSUPA supports upload data rates of up to 5.76Mb/s, which is 15 times faster than HSDPA, which itself is an advancement of 3G wireless technology. KTF launched high-speed uplink packet access, or HSUPA, in five major cities, including the capital Seoul. 

SKT also rolled out an HSUPA network and by December 2007 had completed build-out of what it claimed as the world’s first commercial HSUPA network in Seoul. Initially the network covered two districts of Gangdong-gu and Songpa-gu in Seoul, and extended it to the entire city in 2008. Full commercial service started in 2008 when handsets for HSUPA were released in the market. SKT planned to extend the HSUPA coverage to 23 cities across the nation by the end of 2008 and 84 cities by 2009. 

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. Known as 3.9G in Japan, the new networks will use frequencies in the 2,010MHz to 2,025MHz range for Long-term evolution technology. 3.9G performance is roughly comparable with fibre-optic networks and from 2010 a number of domestic carriers intend to utilise their existing 3G infrastructure, on which the providers spent ¥ 5 trillion, to keep 3.9G rollout costs to a minimum. 

Japan - mobile wireless Internet subscribers by provider - 2009
Company Service Standard Subscribers (million)
NTT DoCoMo i-mode cHTML 48.5
KDDI EZweb HDML 26.2
SOFTBANK Group Yahoo! Keitai MML 16.5
eMobile EMnet - 0.1
Total 91.3
(Source: BuddeComm based on TCA data)

 Asia -WCDMA 3G subscribers by market - 2009
Country WCDMA subscribers (million)
Brunei 0.100
Cambodia 0.200
Hong Kong 2.700
Indonesia 9.400
Japan 99.900
Laos 0.010
Macau 0.300
Malaysia 3.100
Mongolia 0.009
Myanmar 0.005
North Korea 0.019
Philippines 2.400
Singapore 2.600
South Korea 18.600
Taiwan 5.900
Total 145.200
(Source: BuddeComm based on Global Mobile data)

 Wireless broadband in AsiaAfter 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. 

As with other high technology services, it is the developed economies that have lead the way in this segment of the telecom market in Asia. At the same time, however, wireless broadband technologies are certain to prove increasingly popular in the developing markets as they offer a powerful means of by-passing the incumbent’s infrastructure, especially the ‘last mile’ and also accessing customers where the incumbent’s infrastructure finds it difficult. These possibilities will become even more attractive as the cost of equipment falls with more roll-outs occurring and the market demand volume rising. This pattern has already started to emerge. 

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. 

It should be noted that gathering statistics for broadband subscribers in Asia has become difficult with the advent of wireless services and hotspots. One phenomenon that makes it difficult is the practice of service ‘bundling’ by operators. Korea Telecom, for example, had a large number of WiFi subscribers, approximately two-thirds of whom were ‘bundled’ as subscribers on the operator’s DSL service. 

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 Data
1.1.1 Mobile Banking
1.2 Wireless Broadband
1.2.1 Internet Cafes
1.2.2 Third Generation (3G)
2. Armenia
2.1 Mobile Data
2.1.1 ArmenTel (ArmGSM)
2.1.2 K-Telecom (VivaCell)
2.2 Wireless Broadband
2.2.1 WiMAX
3. Azerbaijan
3.1 Wireless Broadband
3.1.1 WiMAX
3.1.2 Wireless Infrastructure
4. Bangladesh
4.1 Mobile data services
4.1.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
4.1.2 Mobile portal service
4.1.3 Mobile broadband
4.2 Wireless broadband
4.2.1 WiMAX licences
5. Bhutan
5.1 Overview
5.2 Mobile Data
5.3 Wireless Broadband
5.3.1 Samden Tech
6. Cambodia
6.1 Wireless Broadband
6.1.1 MediaRing’s acquisition of AngkorNet
6.1.2 Wimax
6.1.3 MobiTel
6.1.4 CadComms
6.1.5 GT-Tell
6.1.6 Smart Mobile (Latelz)
7. China
7.1 Mobile data services
7.1.1 Market overview
7.1.2 Short Message Service (SMS)
7.1.3 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
7.1.4 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
7.1.5 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
7.1.6 Push-to-Talk (PTT)
7.1.7 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
7.1.8 Broadband wireless data services
7.1.9 Mobile TV
7.2 Mobile applications
7.2.1 Market overview
7.2.2 Surge in new applications development
7.2.3 Global positioning systems (GPS)
7.2.4 M-commerce
7.2.5 Mobile gaming
7.2.6 IM search services
7.2.7 Ringtones
7.2.8 Mobile music
7.2.9 Push email
7.3 Mobile Internet
7.4 Mobile Micropayments
7.5 Wireless broadband
7.5.1 Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs)
7.5.2 WiFi
7.5.3 WiMAX
7.5.4 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
7.5.5 Broadband Fixed Wireless Access (BFWA)/Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS)
7.5.6 Broadband via satellite
8. Georgia
8.1 Wireless Broadband
8.1.1 WiMAX
9. Hong Kong
9.1 Mobile data services
9.1.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
9.1.2 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
9.1.3 Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
9.1.4 High-Speed Circuit-Switched Data (HSCSD)
9.1.5 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
9.1.6 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
9.1.7 High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA)
9.1.8 CDMA2000
9.2 Mobile content and applications
9.2.1 Mobile TV
9.2.2 Mobile content access
9.3 Wireless Internet
9.3.1 Free WiFi on Hong Kong buses
10. India
10.1 Mobile data services
10.1.1 Market overview
10.1.2 Short Message Service (SMS)
10.1.3 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
10.1.4 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
10.1.5 Push-to-Talk over Cellular (PoC)
10.1.6 Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW)
10.1.7 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
10.1.8 Mobile entertainment
10.1.9 i-mode
10.1.10 BlackBerry
10.1.11 Mobile TV
10.2 Mobile content
10.2.1 Gaming
10.2.2 Mobile payments
10.2.3 Advertising and marketing
10.3 Wireless Broadband
10.3.1 WiMAX
10.3.2 Satellite
11. Indonesia
11.1 Mobile data services
11.1.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
11.1.2 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
11.2 Mobile Content
11.2.1 Mobile TV
11.2.2 Other services
11.3 Wireless broadband
11.3.1 WiMAX
11.3.2 Wireless LANs (WLAN)
11.3.3 Internet via satellite
12. Japan
12.1 Mobile Internet
12.1.1 NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode
12.1.2 KDDI’s EZweb
12.1.3 Push-to-Talk (PTT)
12.2 Mobile content
12.2.1 Global Positioning System (GPS)
12.2.2 M-commerce / m-cash
12.2.3 Mobile banking
12.2.4 Mobile advertising
12.2.5 Mobile TV and radio
12.2.6 Mobile ringtone and music downloads
12.3 Mobile applications
12.3.1 Earthquake alerts
12.3.2 Personal trainer
12.3.3 QR code readers
12.4 Wireless broadband
12.4.1 Wireless LAN (WLAN)
12.4.2 World Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX)
12.4.3 Internet via satellite
13. Kazakhstan
13.1 Mobile Data
13.1.1 GSM-Kazakhstan (K’Cell)
13.1.2 Kar-Tel (K-Mobile)
14. Laos
14.1 Wireless Broadband
15. Macau
15.1 Overview
15.2 Mobile Data
15.2.1 CTM
15.2.2 Hutchison Telecom Macau
16. Malaysia
16.1 Mobile data services
16.1.1 Short Message Services (SMS)
16.1.2 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
16.1.3 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
16.1.4 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
16.1.5 InterReach Unison
16.1.6 Mobile TV/VoD
16.2 Mobile content and applications
16.2.1 Gaming
16.2.2 M-commerce (micropayments)
16.2.3 Blogging
16.2.4 Inflight services
16.3 Wireless broadband
16.3.1 WiMAX
16.3.2 Internet via satellite
16.3.3 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
17. Mongolia
17.1 Mobile Data and Wireless Broadband operators
17.1.1 MobiCom
17.1.2 SkyTel
17.1.3 Ulusnet
18. Nepal
18.1 Mobile data and wireless broadband operators
18.1.1 Nepal Telecom
18.1.2 Spice Nepal Pvt Ltd (SNPL)
18.2 Satellite mobile
19. Pakistan
19.1 Mobile data services
19.1.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
19.1.2 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
19.1.3 Mobile TV
19.1.4 M-commerce
19.2 Wireless broadband
19.2.1 WiMAX
19.2.2 Internet via satellite
20. Philippines
20.1 Mobile data services
20.1.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
20.1.2 Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
20.1.3 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
20.1.4 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
20.1.5 Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
20.1.6 Mobile TV
20.1.7 Instant Messaging (IM)
20.1.8 BlackBerry
20.2 Mobile content and applications
20.2.1 Mobile tracking
20.2.2 M-commerce
20.3 Wireless broadband
20.3.1 Market overview
20.3.2 WiFi
20.3.3 WiMAX
20.3.4 Internet via satellite
21. Singapore
21.1 Mobile data services
21.1.1 Short Messaging Service (SMS)
21.1.2 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
21.1.3 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
21.1.4 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
21.1.5 i-mode
21.1.6 Payment systems
21.1.7 Location-based services (LBS)
21.1.8 Mobile broadband
21.1.9 Other developments
21.2 Mobile content and applications
21.2.1 Development activity
21.2.2 Mobile TV
21.3 Wireless broadband
21.3.1 Allocation of wireless broadband spectrum
21.3.2 Local Multipoint Distribution Service (LMDS)
21.3.3 WiFi
21.3.4 The Wireless@SG initiative
21.3.5 Ultra-Wideband (UWB)
21.3.6 Wired with Wireless Program
22. South Korea
22.1 Mobile data services
22.1.1 Market overview
22.1.2 Mobile Internet
22.1.3 Short message service (SMS)
22.1.4 Multimedia messaging service (MMS)
22.1.5 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
22.1.6 Push-to-Talk (PTT)
22.1.7 Mobile TV broadcasting / Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB)
22.2 Mobile content and applications
22.2.1 Overview
22.2.2 A Mobile Life
22.2.3 Mobile VoD
22.2.4 Position location system / Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
22.2.5 Automobile telematics
22.2.6 M-commerce / m-payment
22.2.7 Mobile banking (m-banking)
22.2.8 Mobile government (m-government)
22.2.9 M-magazines
22.2.10 M-Big Macs
22.2.11 M-movies
22.3 Wireless broadband
22.3.1 Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) / Wireless Fidelity (WiFi)
22.3.2 Broadband Wireless Local Loop (B-WLL)
22.3.3 Local Multipoint Distribution Services (LMDS)
22.3.4 Wireless Broadband (WiBro)
22.3.5 WiMAX
22.3.6 Broadband via satellite
22.3.7 Wireless mesh networks
23. Sri Lanka
23.1 Mobile Data
23.1.1 Dialog Telekom 3G
23.1.2 Mobitel 3G
23.2 Satellite mobile
23.2.1 MTN Networks
23.2.2 Mobitel
23.2.3 Dialog Telekom
23.3 Wireless broadband / WiMAX
24. Taiwan
24.1 Mobile data
24.1.1 SMS message volume, WAP and GPRS subscribers - 2001-2007
24.1.2 Mobile Internet
24.1.3 Mobile TV
24.2 Wireless Broadband
24.2.1 Government initiatives for broadband
25. Tajikistan
25.1 Mobile Data
25.1.1 Indigo Tajikistan
25.2 Wireless Broadband
25.2.1 WiMAX
26. Thailand
26.1 Mobile data services
26.1.1 Overview
26.1.2 Short Message Service (SMS)
26.1.3 Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
26.1.4 Global Positioning System (GPS) service
26.2 Mobile content and applications
26.2.1 Mobile music
26.2.2 Mobile TV
26.2.3 Gaming
26.3 Wireless Internet
26.3.1 Early wireless Internet access services
26.3.2 WiFi
26.3.3 WiMAX
27. Uzbekistan
27.1 Mobile Data
27.1.1 Unitel
27.1.2 UCell
27.2 Wireless Broadband
27.2.1 WiMAX
28. Vietnam
28.1 Mobile data services
28.1.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
28.1.2 Multimedia Message Service (MMS)
28.1.3 Instant messaging (IM)
28.1.4 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
28.1.5 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
28.1.6 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
28.2 Mobile applications
28.2.1 Games
28.3 Wireless broadband
28.4 Satellite Internet
List of Tables and Exhibits
Table 1 - Mobile data revenues - top three countries - 1H 2008
Table 2 - China Mobile mobile data service users - 2004 - 2008
Table 3 - China Mobile and China Unicom mobile VAS revenue - 2008
Table 4 - China Mobile Value Added Business revenue breakdown - 2006 - 2008
Table 5 - China Mobile VAS revenue breakdown (selected items) - 2006 - 2008
Table 6 - China Mobile VAS subscribers (selected items) - 2006 - 2008
Table 7 - SMS messages sent in China and annual change - 2000 - 2008
Table 8 - China Mobile SMS usage volume and annual change - 2003 - 2008
Table 9 - China Unicom SMS usage by network and annual change - 2005 - 2008
Table 10 - CNNIC WAP usage report on China - March 2007
Table 11 - Mobile Internet subscribers and annual change in China - 2006 - 2008
Table 12 - SMS messages sent and received - 2002 - 2009
Table 13 - SMS statistics for Christmas day and New Years day - 2005 - 2009
Table 14 - SMS statistics for Valentines and Chinese New Year day - 2006 - 2009
Table 15 - 2.5G subscribers in Hong Kong - 2002 - 2009
Table 16 - BWA licence winners in Hong Kong
Table 17 - Mobile wireless Internet subscribers by providers in Japan - 2009
Table 18 - Mobile wireless Internet subscribers in Japan - 2000 - 2009
Table 19 - ARPU for mobile business - 2001 - 2006; 2010 (e), 2015 (e), 2020 (e)
Table 20 - Broadband subscribers by access type in Laos - 2008
Table 21 - ISPs: broadband Internet subscribers and access types in Laos - 2008
Table 22 - SMS volume and subscriber ratio in Malaysia - 2002 - 2008
Table 23 - Broadband subscribers by access type in Malaysia - 2008
Table 24 - Wireless hotspots and hotspot subscribers in Malaysia - 2005 - 2009
Table 25 - Total SMS messages per month in Singapore - 2004 - 2008
Table 26 - Wireless Internet subscribers and market share in South Korea - November 2007
Table 27 - KT wireless Internet ARPU by service type in South Korea - 2007 - 2008
Table 28 - Terrestrial and Satellite DMB subscribers in South Korea - 2008
Table 29 - Wireless Internet subscribers by service provider South Korea - June 2008
Table 30 - KT’s WiBro subscribers - 2006 - 2008
Table 31 - Mobile data service revenue as a proportion of total mobile revenue in Taiwan - 2001 - 2007
Table 32 - SMS message volume and revenue in Taiwan - 2001 - 2008
Table 33 - Mobile Internet subscribers in Taiwan - 2001 - 2008
Exhibit 1 - Overview of broadcasting standards used in China
Exhibit 2 - Wireless Internet operators and services in South Korea
Exhibit 3 - Comparison of WiBro and other technologies in South Korea
Exhibit 4 - Comparison of S-DMB and T-DMB application in South Korea
Exhibit 5 - Estimated B-WLL frequencies, bandwidth and applications in South Korea
Exhibit 6 - LMCS network operators in South Korea
Exhibit 7 - Mobile data licence winners in Taiwan

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