India’s telecommunications market is likely to add nearly 250 million new mobile subscribers by 2020, while smaller countries in the Asia-Pacific region such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar and Pakistan will also make major contributions to subscriber growth, a new GSMA study revealed. Asia Pacific will account for 60 per cent of the one billion unique mobile subscribers that will be added to the global total by 2020, with the region continuing to add subscribers at a faster rate than the global average, GSMA study said.
The number of mobile subscribers in the entire Asia Pacific region will grow to 3.1 billion by 2020, up from 2.5 billion at the end of last year. The four largest markets in the region – China, India, Indonesia and Japan – together accounted for more than three-quarters of the region’s total subscriber base.
The report said that 62 per cent of the Asia Pacific population was subscribed to a mobile service in 2015, forecast to rise to almost three-quarters of the population by 2020 as a further 600 million new subscribers are added over the period.
It is calculated that mobile technologies and services made up 5.4 per cent of Asia Pacific’s GDP last year, equivalent to $1.3 trillion in economic value; this economic contribution is set to increase to $1.7 trillion by 2020.
“More than half the world’s mobile subscribers are based in Asia Pacific and the region will be the main engine of global subscriber growth for the remainder of the decade. Rising subscriber penetration, alongside accelerating migration to faster networks and more advanced services, continues to fuel innovation and digitisation across both advanced and emerging markets in this highly diverse region,” said Mats Granryd, GSMA Director General.
“Mobile is helping Asia build digital societies that allow its citizens to access services, anytime and anywhere – and these mobile-powered digital societies are becoming major drivers of social and economic development,” Granryd said.
According to GSMA, mobile broadband (3G/4G) accounted for 45 per cent of total mobile connections in Asia Pacific last year, forecast to rise to 70 per cent by 2020 as operators continue to invest in 4G network build-outs and subscribers migrate to higher-speed networks. 4G is on track to account for more than a third of total connections in Asia Pacific by 2020.
At the end of 2015, the region had 76 live 4G-LTE networks and 20 live VoLTE networks. According to the report, 4G migration is now gathering pace in markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Meanwhile, the region’s 4G pioneers – such as South Korea, Japan and China – are driving the development of 5G mobile technologies in readiness for deployments before the end of the decade.
The number of smartphone connections in Asia Pacific totalled 1.7 billion at the end of 2015, accounting for 45 per cent of regional connections. China, India and Indonesia have been the main drivers of smartphone growth, helping the region double its overall smartphone base over the last two years.
The region will add a further 1.3 billion smartphone connections by 2020, reaching 3 billion, or two-thirds of the region’s total connections base by that point, the report said.