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Wireless network data traffic in developed Asia–Pacific: trends and forecasts 2015–2020

Wireless network data traffic in developed Asia–Pacific: trends and forecasts 2015–2020

Market Study
Published: July 2016
Pages: 33 slides
Research from: Analysys Mason
Sector: Networks & Infrastructure

From: GBP 5333.00
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"Pricing discipline and saturation has meant subdued growth in most markets in developed Asia–Pacific, and the linear pattern of growth in usage in the advanced markets of this region raises questions about the purpose of 5G."

Traffic growth in developed Asia-Pacific (DVAP) will be linear, and we forecast only 3.6x growth in traffic in the region between 2015 and 2020, despite sporadic boosts from LTE-A carrier aggregation and the expected launch of 5G.

This report provides:

  • 5-year forecasts of wireless data traffic for DVAP as a whole, and for selected countries
  • worldwide context and specific country commentary for four key countries: Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan
  • analysis of the key trends in, and drivers and inhibitors of, data traffic
  • a discussion of the enablers of future capacity on wireless networks and the cost of supplying that capacity
  • analysis of the trends in private and public usage, and their effect on the use of mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Geographical coverage

Regions modelled

 

Countries modelled individually

  • Worldwide
  • Developed Asia–Pacific

 

  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan

Data coverage

Mobile data

 

Wi-Fi data

Total volume and average usage for:

  • handsets
  • mid-screen devices
  • USB modems and routers
  • M2M and smart wearables

 

Traffic split by:

  • public and private usage
  • median usage per smartphone
  • downstream and upstream

 

Total volume and average usage for:

  • handsets
  • mid-screen devices, split by mobile-connected and Wi-Fi-only devices
  • laptops (public Wi-Fi connectivity only)

 

Traffic split by:

  • public and private usage

Traffic growth in developed Asia-Pacific (DVAP) will be linear, and we forecast only 3.6x growth in traffic in the region between 2015 and 2020, despite sporadic boosts from LTE-A carrier aggregation and the expected launch of 5G.

Executive summary

As smartphone penetration nears saturation in developed Asia–Pacific, the rate of data traffic growth will also begin to slow. Usage on smartphones has reached saturation in terms of the amount of time an individual spends consuming mobile data. 5G mobile will be launched in Japan and South Korea before anywhere else, and this will require more than screen-based mobile video to justify investment.

In Hong Kong and Singapore, cellular data traffic growth has been restricted by operators’ fairly homogeneous, volume-based tariff structures. However, Taiwanese operators offer high or unlimited 4G data allowances, which has boosted traffic on cellular networks. Operators prefer the former approach because this maintains the link between volume and yield.

In Japan, Wi-Fi traffic is now increasing at a higher rate of growth as new demand for services such as high-definition (HD) videos, VR content, and UHD streaming calls for better and cheaper bandwidth. However, South Korea is not yet dependent on Wi-Fi. Densification of the network (using C-RAN, small cells), deployment of public Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi carrier aggregation are some of the steps that operators can take to encourage strong levels of growth in wireless traffic.

 

The spheres of cellular and Wi-Fi networks are becoming more delineated, not less.

Wi-Fi accounts for around 70–90% of smartphone data traffic in developed markets. Depending on largely social factors (but also on fixed broadband penetration), as much as 90% of this is on the home Wi-Fi connection. We see no convincing evidence for a shift towards more-widespread usage of mobile data at home, and certainly none for a net decline in home fixed broadband connections. So long as users can take a lower-price, lower-cap plan and restrict mobile usage to where it is needed, that is still what they tend to do. Indeed, some at-home smartphone voice usage is moving to Wi-Fi. The most contested area for cellular and Wi-Fi is the public indoors; deep indoor coverage remains a problem for mobile networks.

It is difficult to see consistent patterns of supply- or demand-side behaviour with regards to public Wi-Fi. MNOs do not have a consistent view of how to strategically engage with Wi-Fi. In general, carrier Wi-Fi appears to be declining in importance because the commercial case is unclear: some MNOs see LTE-U as the way to engage with unlicensed spectrum. As yet, Wi-Fi-first models have had little impact. However, businesses with public footfall on their sites increasingly see the value in installing ‘free amenity’ Wi-Fi. Devicescape records 19 million free amenity Wi-Fi APs in the USA alone in its virtual curated network.

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