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2008 Asian - Mobile Voice Market

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This Asia market report covers 35 countries in North, South and Central Asia. The topic is mobile deployments and developments particularly focussing on voice application for mobile use.

This Asia market report covers 35 countries in North, South and Central Asia. The topic is mobile deployments and developments particularly focussing on voice application for mobile use.

Mobile markets in Asia continued experiencing rapid growth during 2007, despite many countries close to or over the 90% penetration mark. This has resulted in the Asia region being home to the fastest growing telecoms markets in the world. Excluding the highly penetrated markets, growth has been in excess of 20% in all countries, with average annual growth being well over 30%. This is particularly relevant in India and China where monthly net additions are regularly in excess of 10 million subscribers. These two countries alone account for over 20% and 40% overall market share in the Asia-Pacific region respectively.

There is still room for substantial growth. Markets with large populations and relatively low penetration rates, such as India, China, Philippines, Pakistan, Vietnam and Indonesia, will continue to grow at a rapid rate. In the more mature markets like Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, mobile numbers will rise less than 5%. Growth is being driven by various factors, including government investment to drive the economy; infrastructure building after years of neglect or fixing the after-effects in war torn countries, and also major foreign investment.

South Korea has become a leading global mobile phone player as a result of a number of key factors coming together. First, tariffs and terminal costs have been constantly forced downwards, creating a huge surge in public demand. Second, the introduction of competition in 1996 provided a major impetus to growth. Third, the government’s very active role in helping to build the mobile market has been instrumental in making South Korea one of the mobile phone powerhouses on the global scene. Fourth, the nationwide roll out of CDMA technology has been a real boost to the market. Unlike most other countries where GSM is the norm, the South Korean Government mandated the use of CDMA. Fifth, camera-equipped mobile phones should not to be overlooked as simply a fad; these phones played an important role in increasing mobile service subscriptions and sales of mobile handsets. And finally, 3G phones and advanced mobile services such as mobile gaming, m-banking and m-commerce have kept the mobile sector invigorated.

In the developing economies quick and easy mobile uptake is the preferred, and often only, option for subscribers, exacerbated by low fixed-line deployments. These countries also offer investors the promise of continued growth of the mobile infrastructure and subscribers. While subscriber growth and market share is important in the developing economies, there comes a point where the venture must result in profits.

Operators still face the huge challenge of trying to prevent ARPU slide as mobile services spread to poorer parts of the population. To an extent, a large customer base will help to offset low spend but it is also hoped that new non-voice services will help to drive revenue. Operators are developing new mobile services such as mobile banking, remittance payments, and mobile health services that take advantage of a lack of access by the poor to social infrastructure such as banks and hospitals.


In the past five years, as one of its ‘pillar’ industries, China’s telecom service industry has grown at a faster rate than the country’s GDP. Revenue from basic telecom service contributes approximately 2.1% of GDP, while value-added telecom services contribute a further 3.2% to total GDP. China continues to extend its lead as the single largest mobile market in the world. The vast majority of services are GSM - China is the largest GSM market in the world - though China Unicom’s CDMA service is the second largest in the world. By February 2008, China had 565 million mobile phone users, exceeding the fixed-line subscription base of 362 million.

At the end of 2007, mobile penetration in China stood at 41%, following a record level of subscriber additions during the year. The robust growth was due to an expanding rural market and the increasing number of people who have acquired more than one mobile phone. Despite this growth, both China Mobile and China Unicom have been grappling with a steady decline in the average revenue earned from new users. As in other markets around the world, this trend has been fuelled by the growing popularity of prepaid cards instead of the more lucrative postpaid subscriber contracts.

China Mobile chief Wang Jianzhou predicted that, based on the current population of 1.3 billion, China’s mobile market should reach saturation at about 800 million subscribers. Foreign experience suggests that once the 50% mark is reached, growth slows down.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s mobile market has some of the cheapest tariffs in the world. This is one of the reasons why it is has such a high penetration rate. An ongoing price war has cut mobile phone air-time rates to levels where operators have become increasingly reliant on provision of non-voice value-added services to maintain margins. This, in turn, has made 2.5G and 3G services of considerable importance to the operators.


Driven by cheap call rates, low handset prices and rising incomes among the estimated 300 million of the population that are described as the country’s middle class, the boom in India’s mobile market has continued into 2008. Also the operators are increasingly eyeing the poorer rural areas as potential markets for their services.

India’s mobile market finished the 2007 year strongly with over 233 million subscribers in the sector - according to the telecom regulator’s figures which cover GSM, CDMA and WLL. The mobile operators have been attracting new customers with call rates as low as US$0.01 a minute and by offering cheap handsets. While offering some of the lowest mobile tariffs in the world, the market also has the highest usage in the world with an average customer using 500 minutes per month. In the meantime, the fixed-line market has experienced falling customer numbers, with the overall base dropping to 39.3 million by year-end.

The government continues to be very positive about the future of India’s telecoms market. In February 2007, ahead of its national budget, the government predicted that the number of phone connections, including fixed-line, GSM and CDMA subscribers, would rise to 650 million by 2012, from 200 million at the time.


At the end of 2007 almost 90 million of Indonesia’s 245 million population had a mobile phone, providing plenty of room for growth over the next three years. Coming into 2008 the market continued to expand, with annual growth still running at about 30% on the back of cheaper tariffs and handset prices. But the market is also getting crowded and operators have been slashing prices in a bid to entice customers in a country where mobile take-up is set to surge to 120 million by the end of 2008. ARPU is also falling but with this being offset by the increasing subscriber base, companies are planning to target the lower income groups.


Pakistan’s mobile market continued to run hot in 2007 and into 2008. By any measure, 2007 was another remarkable year for the mobile sector; subscribers totalled 77 million by year-end, representing annual growth of 60%, coming on top of 120% growth in 2006. Mobile penetration was almost 50% by end-2007. Strong marketing by the operators continues to be central to Pakistan’s mobile growth phenomenon. As well as marketing, cheap call rates and falling handset prices have also been key factors in driving demand for mobiles.


By March 2008 55 million of the Philippine’s 90 million population were subscribing to mobile services; with the annual growth rate continuing at around 15%. The subscriber base can be expected to reach around 75 million by 2010. On the back of the huge popularity of prepaid services, mobile penetration had reached 59% by end-2007.


Thailand’s mobile market experienced yet another strong year of growth in 2007 and this has continued into 2008. Although growth slowed somewhat from a few years earlier, the market has continued its long run of robust expansion, a run that started in 2000. Despite expectations of a cooling market, by end-2008 the 65 million mobile subscriber mark is expected to be reached.


Vietnam’s mobile market started off slowly but has subsequently developed rapidly - growing at an annual rate of between 50% and 100% per year. Judging by the interest shown by foreign operators in investing in the Vietnam market, there is still plenty of room for further growth.

Mobile subscribers and annual change in Asian markets ranked by penetration - 2007 Country Subscribers (thousand) Annual change Penetration

1. Afghanistan
1.1 Overview of Afghanistan’s mobile market
1.1.1 Mobile statistics
1.2 Mobile licences
1.3 Mobile technologies
1.3.1 Third Generation (3G) mobile
1.4 Satellite mobile
2. Armenia
2.1 Overview of Armenia’s mobile market
2.1.1 Mobile statistics
3. Azerbaijan
3.1 Overview of Azerbaijan’s mobile market
3.1.1 Mobile statistics
3.2 Mobile technologies
3.2.1 Trunk Mobile Radio (TMR)
4. Bangladesh
4.1 Overview of Bangladesh’s mobile market
4.1.1 Mobile statistics
4.2 Interconnection issues
4.3 Mobile technologies
4.3.1 Handsets
4.3.2 Other services
5. Bhutan
5.1 Overview of Bhutan’s mobile market
5.1.1 Mobile statistics
5.1.2 Second mobile licence
5.2 Mobile technologies
5.2.1 Third Generation (3G) mobile
6. Brunei Darussalam
6.1 Overview of Brunei Darussalam’s mobile market
6.1.1 Mobile statistics
6.2 Mobile voice services
6.2.1 Satellite mobile
7. Cambodia
7.1 Overview of Cambodia’s mobile market
7.1.1 Mobile statistics
7.2 Regulatory issues
7.3 Mobile services
7.3.1 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
8. China
8.1 Overview of China’s mobile market
8.1.1 Mobile Internet
8.1.2 Analysis - prevalence of mobile phones in China’s city centres
8.1.3 Mobile statistics
8.2 Regulatory issues
8.2.1 Price wars
8.2.2 Subscriber registration
8.2.3 Calling Party Pays (CPP)
8.2.4 Share listing
8.2.5 Open information
8.2.6 Manufacturing quality
8.2.7 Mobile multimedia alliance
8.3 Mobile technologies
8.3.1 GSM
8.3.2 CDMA
8.3.3 PAS/PHS
8.3.4 Third Generation (3G) mobile
8.3.5 BuddeComm analyses
8.3.6 TD-SCDMA
8.3.7 WCDMA
8.3.8 CDMA2000
8.3.9 Fourth Generation (4G) mobile
8.3.10 WiMAX
8.4 Mobile handset market
8.4.1 Overview
8.5 Mobile voice services
8.5.1 Prepaid cards (SIM and PIM cards)
8.5.2 Satellite mobile
9. Georgia
9.1 Overview of Georgia’s mobile market
9.1.1 Mobile statistics
9.2 Mobile technologies
9.2.1 Third Generation (3G) mobile
10. Hong Kong
10.1 Overview of Hong Kong’s mobile market
10.1.1 Mobile statistics
10.2 Regulatory issues
10.2.1 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
10.2.2 Spectrum licensing
10.2.3 Personal Communications Services (PCS)
10.2.4 Fixed-Mobile Convergence (FMC)
10.3 Mobile technologies
10.3.1 Third Generation (3G) mobile
10.4 Mobile voice services
10.4.1 Prepaid
11. India
11.1 Overview of India’s mobile market
11.1.1 Market background
11.1.2 Mobile statistics
11.1.3 Mobile market segments
11.1.4 Pricing and marketing strategies
11.2 Regulatory issues
11.2.1 New Telecommunications Policy - 1999 (NTP-99)
11.2.2 Year 2007
11.3 Mobile technologies
11.3.1 Overview of mobile technologies used in India
11.3.2 GSM
11.3.3 CDMA
11.3.4 Third Generation (3G) mobile
11.4 Mobile voice services
11.4.1 Prepaid
11.4.2 Satellite mobile
12. Indonesia
12.1 Overview of Indonesia’s mobile market
12.1.1 Mobile statistics
12.2 Mobile technologies
12.2.1 Analogue services (AMPS and NMT)
12.2.2 GSM
12.2.3 CDMA
12.2.4 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
12.2.5 Third Generation (3G) mobile
12.3 Mobile voice services
12.3.1 Prepaid
12.3.2 Satellite mobile
13. Japan
13.1 Overview of Japan’s mobile market
13.1.1 Background
13.1.2 Mobile statistics
13.1.3 Market developments
13.1.4 New entrants into the mobile market
13.1.5 IP mobile telephony to hit the Japanese market around 2008
13.2 Mobile technologies
13.2.1 Personal Digital Cellular (PDC)
13.2.2 CDMA
13.2.3 Personal Handy Service (PHS)
13.2.4 Third Generation (3G) mobile
13.2.5 Fourth Generation (4G) mobile
13.2.6 Mobile handset market
13.3 Mobile services
13.3.1 Overview
13.3.2 Mobile Enterprise Alliance Japan
13.4 Mobile voice services
13.4.1 Prepaid cards
13.4.2 Mobile satellite services (MSS)
14. Kazakhstan
14.1 Overview of Kazakhstan’s mobile market
14.1.1 Mobile statistics
14.2 Mobile technologies
14.2.1 Third Generation (3G) mobile
14.2.2 Trunk Mobile Radio (TMR)
15. Kyrgyzstan
15.1 Overview of Kyrgyzstan’s mobile market
15.1.1 Mobile statistics
16. Laos
17. Macau
17.1 Overview of Macau’s mobile market
17.1.1 Mobile statistics
17.2 Mobile technologies
17.2.1 Push-to-talk (PTT)
18. Malaysia
18.1 Overview of Malaysia’s mobile market
18.1.1 Mobile statistics
18.1.2 Mobile infrastructure
18.2 Mobile technologies
18.2.1 Third Generation (3G) mobile
18.2.2 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
18.3 Mobile voice services
18.3.1 Prepaid cards
19. Maldives
19.1 Overview of Maldives’ mobile market
19.1.1 Mobile statistics
20. Mongolia
20.1 Overview of Mongolia’s mobile market
20.1.1 Mobile statistics
21. Myanmar
21.1 Overview of Myanmar’s mobile market
21.1.1 Mobile statistics
21.2 Mobile services
21.2.1 Satellite mobile
21.2.2 Mobile Broadcasting
22. Nepal
22.1 Overview of Nepal’s mobile market
22.1.1 Mobile statistics
22.2 Satellite mobile
23. North Korea
23.1 Overview of North Korea’s mobile market
23.2 Mobile technologies
23.2.1 GSM
23.2.2 CDMA
24. Pakistan
24.1 Overview of Pakistan’s mobile market
24.1.1 Mobile statistics
24.1.2 Competitive market
24.2 Regulatory issues
24.2.1 Additional licences
24.2.2 Calling Party Pays (CPP)
24.2.3 Licensing in Azad Jammu and Kashmir
24.3 Mobile voice services
24.3.1 Prepaid
24.3.2 Satellite mobile
25. Philippines
25.1 Overview of the Philippines’ mobile market
25.1.1 Mobile statistics
25.2 Regulatory issues
25.2.1 Mobile licences
25.3 Mobile technologies
25.3.1 Personal Communication Services (PCS)
25.3.2 Third Generation (3G) mobile
25.4 Mobile voice services
25.4.1 Prepaid cards
26. Singapore
26.1 Overview of Singapore’s mobile market
26.1.1 Mobile statistics
26.1.2 Average Revenue per User (ARPU)
26.2 Regulatory issues
26.2.1 Tariffs
26.2.2 Mobile billing systems
26.2.3 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
26.2.4 Registration of prepaid services
26.2.5 Additional spectrum auction
26.3 Mobile technologies
26.3.1 GSM
26.3.2 CDMA
26.3.3 Wired with Wireless Program
26.3.4 Third Generation (3G) mobile
26.4 Mobile voice services
26.4.1 Prepaid
26.4.2 International roaming
26.4.3 Satellite mobile
26.4.4 Content
27. South Korea
27.1 Overview of South Korea’s mobile market
27.1.1 Introduction
27.1.2 Technology testbed
27.1.3 Mobile statistics
27.1.4 Mobile growth forecast
27.1.5 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
27.1.6 Mobile phone ‘addiction’ in South Korea
27.2 Regulatory issues
27.3 Mobile technologies
27.3.1 Analogue (AMPS)
27.3.2 CDMA
27.3.3 GSM-CDMA interoperability
27.3.4 CDMA2000
27.3.5 WCDMA
27.3.6 Personal Communication Service (PCS)
27.3.7 One-Phone: fixed and mobile services over one device
27.3.8 Third Generation (3G) mobile in South Korea
27.3.9 Fourth Generation (4G) mobile in South Korea
27.3.10 Mobile handset market
27.4 Mobile voice services
27.4.1 Market overview
27.4.2 Satellite mobile
28. Sri Lanka
28.1 Overview of Sri Lanka’s mobile market
28.1.1 Mobile statistics
28.2 Mobile technologies
28.2.1 Third Generation (3G) mobile
28.3 Satellite mobile
29. Taiwan
29.1 Overview of Taiwan’s mobile market
29.1.1 Mobile statistics
29.2 Regulatory issues
29.2.1 Impact of competition
29.2.2 Low tier mobile licences
29.3 Mobile technologies
29.3.1 Third Generation (3G) mobile
29.3.2 Next generation services
29.3.3 Mobile handset market
29.4 Mobile voice services
29.4.1 Prepaid cards
29.4.2 Personal Handyphone Service (PHS)/Personal Access System (PAS)
30. Tajikistan
30.1 Overview of Tajikistan’s mobile market
30.1.1 Mobile statistics
30.2 Mobile technologies
30.2.1 Third Generation (3G) mobile
31. Thailand
31.1 Overview of Thailand’s mobile market
31.1.1 Mobile statistics
31.1.2 Competition
31.1.3 Interconnection arrangements
31.1.4 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
31.2 Mobile technologies
31.2.1 PCN services
31.2.2 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
31.2.3 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
31.2.4 Third Generation (3G) mobile
31.2.5 Mobile handsets
31.3 Mobile voice services
31.3.1 Prepaid
32. Timor Leste
32.1 Overview of Timor Leste’s mobile market
32.1.1 Mobile statistics
33. Turkmenistan
33.1 Overview of Turkmenistan’s mobile market
33.1.1 Mobile statistics
34. Uzbekistan
34.1 Overview of Uzbekistan’s mobile market
34.1.1 Mobile statistics
35. Vietnam
35.1 Overview of Vietnam’s mobile market
35.2 Market background
35.2.1 Mobile statistics
35.3 Tariffs
35.4 Mobile technologies
35.4.1 Third Generation (3G) mobile
35.5 Mobile voice services
35.5.1 Prepaid cards
36. Glossary of Abbreviations

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