There were only seven million mobile phone users in 1989. Today the global mobile subscription has reached 7.1 billion, said the newly released data of TeleGeography. And the Asia-Pacific region is the major contributor with 60% annual growth during 1Q of 2014 and 1Q of 2015. The report also claims that the number of active mobile lines will cross the world’s population later this year. Yet there is huge opportunity of growth in some areas.
Asia is home to 3.7 billion mobile subscribers, and continues to fuel global growth. Between Q1 2014 and Q1 2015, Asia added 194 million subscribers, or over 60% of net new global wireless subscribers. Nevertheless, the Asian mobile market is far from saturated, as there are over 270 million people without a cell phone. China and India alone account for 2.3 billion subscribers, but while China has emerged as a meaningful 4G market with 162 million LTE subscribers, 90% of Indian mobile subscribers remain on 2G networks, driving the region’s ongoing reliance on the legacy technology.
There is also room for continued growth throughout Africa, where wireless penetration stands at just 81% — well below that of any other region. 2G remains the dominant mobile technology, by far, accounting for over 75% of the continent’s 912 million subscribers. While 3G continues to gain popularity as it becomes more widely available, LTE is still almost nonexistent in Africa, with less than 0.5% of mobile subscribers using the technology as of Q1 2015.
In the race of mobile subscription growth, how is the competition among operators growing? Reference to any study related to growth of competition capability of smaller operators, particularly late entrants, in developing countries will be useful? With the saturation of subscription growth, is the market tilting towards monopoly? Is it the time to evaluate the progress of market based reform of telecom sector, particularly the effect of competition on lowering cost and increasing quality?