China and India will account for almost half of all new mobile subscribers expected to be added worldwide by the end of the decade, according to a new GSMA study. India will account for 27 percent (206 million) and China 21 percent (155 million) of the approximately 753 million new mobile subscribers expected to be added globally by the end of 2020. The Asia-Pacific region as a whole is forecast to see an increase from
2.7 billion unique mobile subscribers at the end of 2016 to 3.1 billion in 2020, accounting for two-thirds of global growth.

There is also a dramatic shift to mobile broadband networks, particularly 4G, which is providing a platform for a rich range of innovative new services across both developed and emerging markets in the region. Meanwhile, advanced operators in Asia are set to become among the first in the world to launch commercial 5G networks before the end of the decade.

Subscriber growth in the Asia-Pacific region will mean that mobile penetration in the region will grow from 66 percent in 2016 to 75 percent in 2020. However, the diverse nature of the region means that mobile penetration rates vary widely. Asia is home to four of the top five most penetrated markets in the world (Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan), but also some of the least penetrated, such as North Korea.

Mobile broadband (3G and above) is now the dominant technology in the region, accounting for more than half of connections for the first time last year.

Mobile technologies and services contributed USD 1.3 trillion in economic value to the Asia-Pacific economy last year, equivalent to 5.2 percent of regional gross domestic product (GDP). It is forecast that this contribution will increase to USD 1.6 trillion (5.4 percent of GDP) in 2020 as countries benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by increased take-up of mobile services and adoption of new mobile technologies such as machine-to-machine (M2M).


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