Asia-Pacific subs to grow by 25 per cent in four years

Informa Telecoms & Media (ITM) has released forecasts that show annual mobile service revenues in the Asia Pacific region will increase by more than 16 per cent from the end of this year to US$326.37bn by end-2013, with growth powered by the twin engines of rising mobile subscriptions and greater usage of data services.

Asia Pacific: Mobile Market Analysis and Forecasts, a new report from Informa Telecoms & Media, forecasts that the region’s total subscriptions base will increase by over 500 million, or almost 25 per cent, from 2.03 billion at end-2009 to 2.53 billion at end-2013.

“The robust growth will be spurred in particular by immense expansion in China and India, and also higher-than-expected subscription increases in developing markets such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam,” said Nicole McCormick, senior
analyst at ITM.

Prepaid connections will continue to be the most popular tariff option in the region, with the number of prepaid users rising from 1.52 billion in 2009 to 1.97 billion by 2013, accounting for approximately 90 per cent of total net additions. As a result, prepaid penetration in the regional will rise from 74.8 per cent in 2009 to 77.7 per cent in 2013.

“Continued growth is being prompted in most markets by operators’ expansion into rural regions, as mobile take-up in large cities reaches full saturation,” said McCormick. She adds that leading operators in China and India already claim that more than 50 per cent of their quarterly net additions now come from rural customers.

However, with subscription growth being driven by low-income segments, ARPU is also being adversely affected. ITM forecasts that blended ARPU across the region will fall from US$12.33 in 2009 to US$10.88 in 2013.

At the same time, however, the region is fast becoming a powerhouse of wireless-broadband take-up, with cheap HSPA services helping to fuel both the growth in subscriptions and in revenues. As voice revenues level off, and actually decline towards the end of the period, data revenues are forecast to rise from 30 per cent of total revenues in 2009 to 38 per cent by end-2013.

Overall penetration will rise from 53.4 per cent end-2009 to 64 per cent end-2013, while actual subscriber penetration increasing from 42.9 to 51.2 per cent over the same period. The difference in subscriber versus subscription penetration shows the importance of multi-SIM ownership, with each subscriber owning, on average, 1.24 SIMs in 2009 and 1.25 SIMs in 2013.

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