Around half of the world’s mobile subscribers reside in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the GSMA’s Mobile Economy Asia Pacific 2014 report.
The industry body notes that the number of subscribers is set to increase as the region will continue to experience fast mobile growth “through 2020 and beyond”.
At the end of last year, APAC boasted 1.7 billion unique mobile subscribers – roughly half of the global total of 3.4 billion. This is forecast to rise to 2.4 billion by 2020, during which time the region’s compound annual growth rate will be 5.5%. Only Sub-Saharan Africa is predicted to see faster mobile growth.
The majority of the region’s subscribers are based in four markets – from largest to smallest, these are China, India, Japan and Indonesia. These markets are so populous that they constitute 75% of the region’s total subscriber base and 66% of the entire global base.
Many markets in the region are still considered developing despite the availability of advanced technologies and high device penetration rates. Markets such as India that are focused on connecting rural areas and providing mobile broadband at rates affordable to subscribers are categorised as “discoverer” markets.
The mobile industry accounted for roughly 4.7% of the entire Asia-Pacific region’s GDP in 2013, bringing in around $864 billion and sustaining 3.7 million jobs. By 2020, this figure is forecast to top 6.9% of GDP and 6.1 million jobs.
Asia is also the largest regional M2M market, with around 40% of the world’s 189 million M2M connections at the end of 2013. China is leading the way in adoption of M2M technology, with another GSMA report noting that it had over a quarter of the global M2M market last year.
“China is a rapidly developing country that is investing in communications technologies that will make its cities smarter and provide a better quality of life for its citizens,” said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. “Proactive government support has benefited China and its mobile operators, whereas in many global markets, regulatory uncertainty has held back the deployment of M2M solutions. The addressable market and the opportunity for further growth is immense, especially when one considers the sheer number of ‘things’ such as cars or domestic appliances that could potentially be connected by mobile.”