Asia Pacific to account for 45% of mobile subscriber growth worldwide

Posted on October 18, 2006  /  4 Comments

According to a recent report, the total number of mobile subscribers in Asia Pacific has doubled in the course of two years and by the end of 2006 will account for 45% of mobile subscriber growth worldwide. China,India and Pakistan account for 70% of the growth in the region.

AsiaPac mobile subscribers.jpg


  1. I place little weight on these results generated by consultancy firms in search of a media mention.

    Here’s something to think about. No speculation, no proprietary models, what is happening right now in Bangladesh:

    Month Mobiles
    Jan 2006 10,275,869
    Feb 2006 10,543,898
    Mar 2006 10,954,285
    Apr 2006 11,781,560
    May 2006 13,440,836
    June 2006 14,190,606
    July 2006 14,798,440
    Aug 2006 15,510,000
    Sep 2006 17,647,537

    Isn’t this spectacular? More than a million a month in little Bangladesh!

  2. Not only is mobile growth in Asia Pacific spectacular and accounting for a significant share of global growth, but investors are viewing Asian telecom shares as “bomb-shelters” against slow-down in other advanced economies. According to this article from Bloomberg:

    “China Mobile Ltd., the world’s largest mobile-phone company by number of customers, and Reliance Communications Ltd., the second biggest in India, have led the Morgan Stanley Capital International Telecommunication Services Index to a 3.5 percent advance this quarter. The industry’s gauge is also beating the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index for the full year, which hasn’t happened since 1999. Phone stocks kept pace with a regional rally last week.

    “Growth opportunities in areas like China and India” and “predictable cash flows” make them worth owning, said Nidhi Mahurkar, who oversees $8 billion of Asian equities as head of global emerging markets at Pictet Asset Management in London. Her funds’ holdings exceed the group’s weight in benchmarks. Mobile-phone companies in China and India are together adding about 10 million subscribers each month, more than the population of Sweden. There is still plenty of room for growth…

    “Telecom is among Asia’s least vulnerable sectors in a global slowdown,” said Matt Adams, Deutsche Bank AG’s head of Asia telecom research in Hong Kong. He recommends investors buy shares such as China Mobile, Bharti and Telkom.

  3. Bangladesh is no longer a little market. The market grew by 144% last year as per a recent report. There are 5 operators and another operator is about commence the mobile services making it the sixth. The newest entrant is UAE-based GSM operator Warid Telecom. They are investing US$800 million in Bangladesh. They are trying to get into market by offering premium services, offering GPRS etc, and have awarded a significant contract to Ericsson. However Grameen leads the game for the moment followed by tough competition from many players with international backing such as TM, Orascom, Singtel etc. Overall Bangladesh is 140Mil people and it’s a huge market for further growth.

    Another key initiative which APAC operators are going to bet on is interoperable IM services. There are 15 key operators who initially planned to roll out personal IM services which covers many countries. China Mobile, T-Mobile, Aircel, Bharati, BSNL, Hutch, Idea, Spice etc. Further Celcom, Digi, maxis are going to launch interoperable IM services soon.

    One of the key goals of this initiative is to make IM as popular as Text messaging. I really doubt this for the moment, as unlike SMS, IM requires handset compatibility etc. However, these are good moves to make mobile services popular in fastest growing markets.

    Overall key challenges are now to see the success of 3G/HSDPA, evolution of services such as IM, covergance of mobile/media, and use of mobiles to bridge the gap for digital divide.

  4. Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Karpagam Palaniappan states the following in a recent news report:

    “While the number of fixed-line subscribers are already on a steady decline in most Asia-Pacific countries, markets such as China, India, Indonesia and Thailand, which have large populations and low household penetration rates, continue to experience growing subscriptions,”

    This statement is patently incorrect and is not supported by the current data. In India, fixed wirelines have declined from 41.1 million in September 2005 to 40.48 million in September 2006 (TRAI). In Indonesia, fixed wirelines have remained static at 8.7 million in 2005 and at the end of 2006 (PT Telkom data). Fixed line per 100 subscribers actually declined in Indonesia from 3.97% in 2005 to 3.92% in 2006 (as population grew while lines remained static). In Thailand, fixed lines growth has remained more or less static since 1996 because fixed line concessions specified the maximum number of lines that each private operators was allowed to install. Growth declined when quota was reached. From 2004-2005 fixed lines in Thailand grew only by 3percent from 6.5 million to 6.7 millions.

    When an analyst can’t get the basic facts right, what value can be attached to any analysis derived from the data?