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The line between mobile communications – voice services as opposed to broadband services – is becoming blurred by the rapid uptake of smartphones.
This makes it more difficult to produce reports with a clear delineation between the two sectors. This report concentrates specifically on the mobile broadband developments and therefore, in the developed mobile communication markets in particular, it does not include statistical and other information on the underlying mobile communication part of the market – for example, general statistics on mobile subscribers and revenues.
That information can be found in our other report on this market: Asia - Mobile Voice Market
The countries covered in this report include: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.
Asia home to over 50% of world’s mobile broadband services
With some 3.7 billion people across Asia using mobile phones – over 50% of the mobile subscribers in the world – spread across a diverse range of markets, the region is already rapidly advancing in the adoption of mobile data/wireless broadband services.
Asia - mobile services and mobile broadband – subscribers/penetration – 2012 – 2015
Mobile broadband subscriptions
Proportion of mobile subscriber market
(Source: BuddeComm based on ITU data)
As the penetration of mobile services in Asia moved from 80% to 92% in the four years up to 2015, the share of mobile broadband services as a proportion of the still growing mobile subscriber base moved rapidly from 18% to almost 50%. Growth across the region in high speed access to the internet by means of mobile broadband services has been largely driven by highly competitive markets combined with the preparedness of the customer to embrace new generation mobile technologies. With 3G and 3G+ platforms extensively covering the region, mobile broadband services have already become well established.
The rapid take up has been underpinned by increasingly cheaper smartphone prices and lower airtime tariffs combining to support even wider adoption. And now, of course, we have 4G/LTE providing a fresh impetus, not only in the region’s pace-setting markets, but right across Asia.
In the context of mobile broadband services, we should not ignore the WiMAX platform. Whilst there has been some activity in the providing of fixed WiMAX networks, the real test has been the advent of mobile WiMAX. The roll-out of WiMAX-based mobile services in Asia has begun; however, significant rollouts have been limited to just a few markets. The technology is looking more and more like a platform suited for niche markets. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia have notable WiMAX roll outs.
By end-2015 mobile broadband subscriptions in Asia totalled just over 1.7 billion – about 50% of all the mobile broadband subscribers in the world. The number of mobile broadband subscribers in Asia was growing at around 45% annually heading into 2016.