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2006 South Asian Mobile Communications and Mobile Data Markets


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

This annual report offers a wealth of information on the Mobile Communications and Mobile Data markets in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka. Subjects covered include:

Overview, Regional Characteristics, Growth and Market Structure
Mobile Technologies - GSM, CDMA, PCN/PCS
Mobile Services - Prepaid, fixed-mobile convergence, gaming
Mobile Data - Market Overview, SMS, MMS, PoC, GPRS, WAP
Overview on 3G
Mobile Satellite Services


Afghanistan In 2003, the second GSM mobile service in the country was launched, while another two mobile licences were issued in September 2005. By end-2005, the mobile subscriber base had reportedly reached about one million (approaching 4% penetration). In the meantime, the government, in a push to develop the fixed-line network, launched what it called the Local Fixed Service Provider (LFSP) program. This program was expected to see hundreds of small-scale investors set up companies at the village or provincial level using Wireless Local Loop (WLL) technology.

Bangladesh, ranks among the most densely populated countries on the globe, but its fixed-line teledensity remains the lowest in South Asia. With teledensity at less than 1%, only a relatively small proportion of the population has had access to any telecom facility. Almost 99% of homes lack a telephone and there is a four year waiting list for a fixed-line service. The situation is worse in the rural villages, with more than 90% of Bangladesh’s telephone services located in urban areas. The overall situation in Bangladesh has been improved to some extent by a rapidly expanding mobile market. But after a number of years of strong growth (138% in 2005), mobile penetration was still only a little over 5% (7.5 million mobile subscribers) at end-2005, compared with close to one million fixed-line telephone services.

Bhutan A country that preferred to remain isolated from the world from a long time, Bhutan has very recently started to improve its telecommunications capability. To do so it has had to overcome the country’s mountainous landscape. Whilst the country had a basic connection to the outside world as early as 1974, with the introduction of trunk calls between Bhutan and India, it was not until 1999 that television, satellite dishes and Internet services started to appear. The tiny country proceeded to invest relatively heavily - to the tune of around US$27 million - in telecommunications infrastructure between 1996 and 2002 to provide the country with a modern fixed line network. In late 2003, the country’s first mobile service was launched by Bhutan Telecom (b-mobile) and by early 2006 was claiming almost 40,000 subscribers, giving a mobile penetration of less than 2%.

After a late start, Bhutan has been cautiously embracing the Internet. The Bhutanese Government and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) signed a project agreement in March 1999 to support the development of DrukNet, the country’s first Internet Service Provider (ISP). There were an estimated 5,000 Internet subscribers in the country at end-2005.

Accurate statistical information on Bhutan is difficult to obtain; there is even a huge variation between sources on what is the country’s population.

India India continues to be one of the fastest growing major telecom markets in the world. Sweeping reforms introduced by successive Indian governments over the last decade have dramatically changed the nature of telecommunications in the country. The mobile sector has grown from around 10 million subscribers in 2002 to 80 million (including both GSM and CDMA services) by early 2006, aided by a mix of higher subscriber volumes, lower tariffs and falling handset prices. Whilst GSM technology remains the dominant technology platform in the market, CDMA has quickly grabbed a 23% market share. Despite the huge mobile subscriber base, this represented only around 8% of India’s one billion plus population. Clearly, the mobile industry should continue its strong growth. The country’s telecom regulator, the TRAI, says that the rate of market expansion would increase with further regulatory and structural reform. The adoption of Unified Licensing, a change in the Access Deficit Charge regime, increased sharing of infrastructure and coverage of new areas by operators will contribute to ongoing growth.

The Maldives The Maldives, with its relatively small population of 300,000, can rightly claim an efficient, up to date national telecommunications system, despite it being spread of a large archipelago of islands. Dhiraagu, the country’s monopoly telco, has invested considerable effort to ensure that there is now a complete and effective telephone service covering the whole country. As well as operating the fixed-line network, the company has also been operating an extensive mobile service and is an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Dhiraagu’s monopoly was officially set to run out in 2008, but the government was keen to open up the market earlier than that and this was starting to happen progressively. The licensing of a second ISP in 2002 signalled that the government was already moving on its plans to open up the market ahead of time. Dhiraagu has responded by increasing its product range and improving its customer service.

Then, in 2004, a second mobile licence was issued, again resulting in the incumbent moving quickly and aggressively to increase its presence in that sector of the market. The new operator, Wataniya Telecom, launched its service in the second half of 2005 and by December had signed up 50,000 subscribers. The rapid roll-out continued and by March 2006 its subscriber base was approaching 60,000. In the meantime, Dhiraagu was not standing still; it had increased its subscriber base to 164,000 by March, having managed to grow by 23% over the previous 12 months. The overall market had reached an amazing 67% penetration.

Nepal Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Amid what has been an unsettled political climate that erupts as a major problem from time to time the country has been moving steadily towards a more liberalised telecom market. Positive regulatory changes in the telecom sector have been implemented, including the incumbent telco losing its monopoly status in the market. By April 2006, over 170 operators had been authorised to provide a wide range of telecom services, including two for basic telephony and two for mobile telephony. Mobile services are provided in the country by two operators - Nepal Telecom and newcomer Spice Nepal. With Spice providing some serious competition to the incumbent, the total mobile subscriber base had reached 600,000 by March 2006, a penetration of just over 2%, after the market had expanded by 100% in 2005.

Pakistan After a period in which the country slowly transitioned from one dominated by a regulated state-owned monopoly to a comparatively deregulated competitive structure, Pakistan’s telecom sector had finally begun moving and looked set for an era of phenomenal growth. Pakistan’s mobile sector, which had started to grow strongly over the last few years, continued its rapid expansion. After growing by almost 170% in 2005, the mobile subscriber base had reached 22 million (14% penetration) in early 2006. The government’s reform plans were being progressively implemented and this is certainly starting to have some impact on the market. The country’s four mobile operators have been joined by two new operators - Warid Telecom and Telenor Pakistan - following a decision by the government to issue two additional mobile licences. By end-2005, after less than 12 months operation, Telenor had 1,870,000 subscribers and Warid Telecom claimed 2,070,000. An important aspect of reforming the telecom sector was the privatisation of PTCL (Pakistan Telecom). In June 2005, the UAE operator, Etisalat, submitted the highest bid of US$2.6 billion for a 26% stake in PTCL. Despite lodging the winning bid, the acquisition took a further six months to complete after a dispute over payment terms arose almost jeopardising the sale.

Sri Lanka's Sri Lanka has been demonstrating considerable determination in its efforts to develop the country despite its ongoing political problems. With a modern progressive telecommunications sector high on the list, the sector looks to be well positioned for vigorous growth. The country’s fixed-line teledensity was approaching 6% and mobile penetration was over 17% in early 2006, with annual growth of the mobile sector running in excess of 50%. At the same time, the strong growth looks very much like it was set to continue.

1. OVERVIEW OF MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS AND MOBILE DATA MARKETS
1.1 Overview
1.1.1 Regional characteristics
1.1.2 Growth drivers
1.1.3 Market structure
1.2 Mobile technologies
1.2.1 Overview
1.2.2 GSM
1.2.3 CDMA
1.2.4 Personal Communication Services (PCN/PCS)
1.3 Mobile services
1.3.1 Prepaid services
1.3.2 In-building coverage
1.3.3 Fixed-mobile convergence
1.3.4 Mobile gaming
1.4 Mobile satellite services
1.5 Mobile data services
1.5.1 Market overview
1.5.2 Short Messaging Service (SMS)
1.5.3 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
1.5.4 WAP v. i-Mode
1.5.5 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
1.5.6 Push-to talk over Cellular (PoC)
1.6 Mobile applications
1.6.1 M-Commerce
1.6.2 Asia Mobile Electronic Services Alliance
1.7 Third Generation (3G) mobile
1.7.1 Overview
1.7.2 Third Generation standards
1.7.3 Third Generation licensing
1.7.4 Third Generation roll-out
2. AFGHANISTAN
2.1 Overview of Afghanistan’s mobile market
2.2 Mobile operators
2.2.1 AWCC
2.2.2 Roshan
2.2.3 New mobile licences
2.3 Satellite mobile
2.3.1 Globalstar
3. BANGLADESH
3.1 Overview of Bangladesh’s mobile market
3.1.1 Statistical overview
3.2 Interconnection issues
3.3 Mobile operators
3.3.1 Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Ltd (PBTL)
3.3.2 GrameenPhone
3.3.3 Sheba Telecom
3.3.4 Telekom Malaysia International Bangladesh
3.3.5 Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB)
3.3.6 Warid Telecom
3.4 Mobile services
3.4.1 Prepaid
3.4.2 Wireless Internet
3.4.3 Short Message Service (SMS)
3.4.4 Handsets
3.4.5 Satellite mobile
3.4.6 Other services
4. BHUTAN
4.1 Overview of Bhutan’s mobile market
5. INDIA
5.1 Overview of India’s mobile market
5.1.1 Mobile statistics
5.1.2 Mobile market segments
5.1.3 Pricing and marketing strategies
5.2 Regulatory issues
5.2.1 New Telecommunications Policy - 1999 (NTP99)
5.2.2 Year 2006
5.2.3 Year 2005
5.2.4 Year 2004
5.3 Mobile technologies
5.3.1 Overview of mobile technologies used in India
5.3.2 GSM
5.3.3 CDMA
5.3.4 Third Generation (3G) mobile
5.4 Major mobile operators
5.4.1 Market overview
5.4.2 Mergers and acquisitions
5.4.3 Competition
5.4.4 Subscriber statistics and market share
5.4.5 Overview of major mobile operators
5.5 Mobile voice services
5.5.1 Prepaid
5.5.2 Satellite mobile
5.6 Mobile data services
5.6.1 Market overview
5.6.2 Short Message Service (SMS)
5.6.3 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
5.6.4 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
5.6.5 Push-to-Talk over Cellular (PoC)
5.6.6 Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW)
5.6.7 Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
5.6.8 Mobile TV
5.7 Mobile applications
5.7.1 Mobile entertainment
6. MALDIVES
6.1 Overview of Maldives’ mobile market
6.2 Second mobile licence
7. NEPAL
7.1 Overview of Nepal’s mobile market
7.1.1 Mobile statistics
7.2 Major mobile operators
7.2.1 Nepal Telecom
7.2.2 Spice Nepal Pvt Ltd (SNPL)
7.3 Satellite mobile
8. PAKISTAN
8.1 Overview of Pakistan’s mobile market
8.1.1 Statistical overview
8.2 Competitive market
8.3 Single access number
8.4 Calling Party Pays
8.5 Major mobile operators
8.5.1 Paktel
8.5.2 Pakcom (Instaphone)
8.5.3 Mobilink (PCML)
8.5.4 Ufone (PTCL)
8.5.5 Warid Telecom
8.5.6 Telenor Pakistan
8.6 Mobile services
8.6.1 Prepaid cards
8.6.2 Wireless Application Protocol (WAP)
8.6.3 MMS
8.7 Satellite mobile
9. SRI LANKA
9.1 Overview of Sri Lanka’s mobile market
9.2 Major mobile operators
9.2.1 Celltel Lanka
9.2.2 Hutchison/Lanka Cellular
9.2.3 Mobitel
9.2.4 MTN/Dialog Telekom
9.2.5 Third Generation (3G) mobile
9.2.6 Satellite mobile
10. GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS
Exhibit 1 - Mobile technologies (2G) in use in selected countries - 2006
Exhibit 2 - CDMA operators in the Asia region - cellular services - 2006
Exhibit 3 - Asia region 2.75G and 3G mobile roll-out - 2006
Exhibit 4 - Mobile operators in Bangladesh- March 2006
Exhibit 5 - CDMA 2G deployment in India - 2005


Table 1 - Mobile subscriber growth - 1990 - 2006
Table 2 - Fixed-line and mobile phone subscribers and penetration (selected Asian countries) - March 2006
Table 3 - Top 10 Asia mobile markets and annual change (ranked by subscribers) - March 2006
Table 4 - Top 10 Asia mobile markets (ranked by penetration) - 2005/2006
Table 5 - Top 10 Asia mobile operators (by subscribers) - March 2005
Table 6 - Top 10 Asia mobile operators (by subscribers) - March 2006
Table 7 - Asia’s mobile markets: under 10% penetration - March 2006
Table 8 - Asia’s mobile markets: penetration between 10% and 20% - March 2006
Table 9 - GSM subscriber growth - 1997 - 2006
Table 10 - CDMA subscriber growth - 1997 - 2006
Table 11 - Prepaid mobile subscriber growth in Asia - 1999 - 2006
Table 12 - Prepaid subscribers - selected operators - December 2005
Table 13 - SMS traffic (selected markets) - December 2005
Table 14 - MMS user growth (selected markets) - 2005
Table 15 - Wireless Internet subscribers - February 2006
Table 16 - 3G WCDMA subscriber growth in Asia - 2004 - 2006
Table 17 - WCDMA, 1xRTT, and 1xEVDO subscribers - March 2006
Table 18 - Mobile subscriber growth - 2002 - 2005
Table 19 - Mobile statistics overview Afghanistan - 2005
Table 20 - Mobile statistics overview Bangladesh - September 2005
Table 21 - Mobile subscribers by operator - September 2005
Table 22 - Mobile subscriber growth - 1996 - 2006
Table 23 - Market share by operator - September 2005
Table 24 - Pacific Bangladesh subscribers - 1999 - 2005
Table 25 - GrameenPhone subscribers - 1998 - 2005
Table 26 - Sheba Telecom subscribers - 2002 - 2005
Table 27 - Mobile statistics overview Bhutan - 2005
Table 28 - Mobile subscriber growth - 2004 - 2006
Table 29 - Mobile statistics overview India - 2005
Table 30 - Mobile subscriber growth - GSM and CDMA and annual growth - 2002 - 2005
Table 31 - GSM mobile subscriber growth and annual growth - 1997 - 2006
Table 32 - Mobile operators (GSM & CDMA) - subscribers and market share - December 2005
Table 33 - WLL technology-based subscribers - March 2006
Table 34 - Mobile services revenue - 1996 - 2006
Table 35 - GSM mobile subscriber market share by circle - February 2006
Table 36 - GSM mobile subscribers by region/circle - 2004 - 2006
Table 37 - GSM mobile operators - subscribers by market share - 2005
Table 38 - CDMA mobile operators - subscribers by market share - 2005
Table 39 - Mobile operators - subscribers and annual change - 2005
Table 40 - Operator market share (GSM & CDMA) - July 2005
Table 41 - ARPU prepaid/postpaid/blended ARPU per month (in rupees) by circle - December 2005
Table 42 - Mobile subscriber growth - 1998 - 2005
Table 43 - Postpaid and prepaid - 2004
Table 44 - Mobile statistics overview Maldives - 2005
Table 45 - Mobile statistics overview Nepal - 2005
Table 46 - Mobile subscribers and annual change by operator - 2005
Table 47 - Mobile subscriber, annual change and penetration - 1999 - 2005
Table 48 - Mobile statistics overview Pakistan - 2005
Table 49 - Mobile subscribers by operator - 2005
Table 50 - Mobile subscriber growth - 1995 - 2005
Table 51 - Mobile operator market share - 2001 - 2005
Table 52 - Mobile services revenue - 1998 - 2005
Table 53 - Mobile subscriber growth - 1995 - 2005
Table 54 - Mobile statistics overview Sri Lanka - September 2005
Table 55 - Mobile subscribers by operator - 2004

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