HONG KONG - The GSMA today published a comprehensive assessment1 of the impact of the mobile industry on the Asia Pacific region.
The new report, ‘Mobile Economy: Asia Pacific 2013’, confirms the region’s position at the forefront of mobile innovation, with the number of unique mobile subscribers having outpaced the rest of the world over the last decade, reaching 1.5 billion at the end of 2012. In 2017, it is expected that Asia Pacific will reach 1.9 billion unique mobile subscribers, accounting for almost half of the predicted global total of 3.9 billion.
"Mobile is already having a profound impact across all Asia Pacific countries, with spectacular growth in service penetration, driven by investment in infrastructure and continued innovation in devices and services,” said Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA. “We are now at the dawn of a far greater growth opportunity and we urge regional Governments and regulators to support mobile operators in meeting that full potential. Making the right decisions around regulatory frameworks and spectrum availability will encourage the mobile industry to continue investing in expanding and upgrading services across the region.”
Mobile Drives Economic Growth
The rapid penetration of mobile services and early roll-out of mobile broadband networks is driving profound economic change in Asia Pacific. As of the end of 20123, the mobile industry had invested US $80 billion in mobile infrastructure, generated US $1 trillion4 in GDP for Asia Pacific economies and contributed US $100 billion to public funding5. With access to vital spectrum resources and regulatory policy focused on driving further investment, for the period through 2020, the mobile industry could contribute an additional US $2.3 trillion to GDP and a further US $200 billion to public funding.
Dawn of a New Mobile Ecosystem
The mobile ecosystem in Asia Pacific is undergoing a rapid transformation with traditional telecoms providers expanding their business models and new players quickly emerging to compete for customers with innovative new services. The report highlights a number of key trends:
- Strong growth of data as voice traffic slows down across the Asia Pacific region, while data usage has grown at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of nearly 142 per cent from 2010 to 2012. 3G and 4G connections will grow 17 per cent every year over the next five years;
- Greater affordability of mobile services. The average monthly cost of mobile services across the region is falling by five per cent per year, decreasing from US $28.80 in 2005 to $19.70 in 2012;
- Entry of non-traditional players, including the emergence of entrepreneurial start-ups in areas such as mobile advertising and online video sites; and
- Increased socio-economic impact through collaborative platforms and mobile-enabled services such as payments, education and information services.
This transformation is creating countless business opportunities in both developed and developing economies and accelerating the availability of mobile-enabled services.
Moving Faster to Reap Benefits
In developed economies, which already boast high subscriber penetration rates, there is a need for cohesive regulation to encourage the growth of connected services such as Smart Cities and mHealth. For developing countries, there is a continuing need for regulation that encourages long-term investment in network roll-out and upgrades to improve access to basic services.
The GSMA is calling for changes that will further enable citizens throughout the region to reap the benefits of mobile. Consistent and fair long-term regulatory frameworks and taxation policies are needed to incentivise, not restrict, investment in mobile and spur regional economic growth and welfare improvement. For example, the Universal Service Obligation Framework (USOF) should be revisited to ensure that goals and levies are aligned to drive the availability of mobile services in areas not yet fully connected by mobile.
The timely availability of spectrum will also be critical in enabling the mobile industry to extend, upgrade and deliver new services. Regional Governments should be led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standards on the bands and amounts of spectrum made available to mobile operators as they seek to upgrade networks to 3G or 4G services. The drive towards band harmonisation, in line with the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) band plan, is a critical part of this process, as up to 30 per cent of the benefits of the switch from analogue to digital TV broadcasts depend on harmonisation of the 700MHz band across the region.
Bouverot added: “Mobile is already a significant engine for growth and welfare improvement throughout the Asia Pacific region. Now there is a clear opportunity for mobile to further transform lives, create new businesses and drive additional economic growth. If regulators are focused on creating environments that encourage further investment, from both traditional and new mobile players, then this opportunity is well within the reach of all countries with the region, regardless of their level of economic development.”
To access the report please visit: www.gsma.com/mobileeconomyasia