Monday, June 05, 2006

Frost & Sullivan: Mobile Subscriber Base Approaches One Billion in Asia-Pac

Frost & Sullivan predicts that "cellular subscriber growth in the Asia Pacific region is poised to see continued double-digit growth in the next three years. The region’s mobile industry is estimated to grow by 22 percent in 2006 to reach close to a billion subscribers by year-end, including Japan’s 100 million subscribers."

According to the firm, "given the markets’ infancy and vast population base, India and Indonesia are likely to fuel a significant portion of the growth. The implementation of ‘lifetime validity’ in India, as well as the ongoing network expansion into rural areas in developing cellular markets will further help sustain the mobile industry’s high growth in the region."

Frost & Sullivan said "the mobile subscriber base - covering 12 major Asia Pacific economies ex-Japan - totaled 677.5 million in 2005 and is forecasted to reach 826.6 million by end-2006."

Some factors "contributing to the growth of the low-end market include the launch of low-cost entry-level mobile handsets, the move into rural areas for long-term sustainable growth, the continuous price cuts in call rates, and the introduction of affordable flat-rate pricing plans."

Janice Chong at Frost & Sullivan said, “With call charges typically accounting for more than 75 percent of the total regional mobile revenues, Asia Pacific’s cellular industry is highly voice-centric. However, in view of the declining growth in voice revenues and the stiff competition from alternative voice applications, mobile data is seen as the next wave of growth for mobile operators in the region.”

The firm also thought that "despite the emergence of such new technologies, the 2G/2.5G mobile subscriber base is expected to continue contributing significantly to the overall growth of the industry, given its near-term market dominance. In order to accelerate the migration from 2G/2.5G to the 3G platform, 3G operators would need to continue emphasizing on inexpensive voice and offer aggressive 3G handset subsidies."

Chong added, “At a time when most regional cellular industries are fast approaching saturation, Asia Pacific remains one of the few surviving high-growth markets. Although this highly competitive market is plagued by constant price war and short product life cycles, it is far from being saturated.”