The number of mobile subscribers in the Asia Pacific region reached 2.5 billion at the end of 2015, and will grow to 3.1 billion by 2020, according to a new GSMA study. According to the study, 62 per cent of the Asia Pacific population was subscribed to a mobile service in 2015. That number is forecast to rise to almost three-quarters of the population by 2020, as a further 600 million new subscribers are added over the period.

It is estimated that mobile technologies and services made up 5.4 per cent of Asia Pacific’s GDP last year, equivalent to $1.3 trillion in economic value; this economic contribution is set to increase to $1.7 trillion by 2020.

More than half the world’s mobile subscribers are based in Asia Pacific and the region will be the main engine of global subscriber growth for the remainder of the decade

“More than half the world’s mobile subscribers are based in Asia Pacific and the region will be the main engine of global subscriber growth for the remainder of the decade,” said Mats Granryd, GSMA Director General. “Rising subscriber penetration, alongside accelerating migration to faster networks and more advanced services, continues to fuel innovation and digitization across both advanced and emerging markets in this highly diverse region.”

Growth in Subscribers, Mobile Broadband and Smartphones Across Asia

Asia Pacific will account for 60 per cent of the one billion unique mobile subscribers that will be added to the global total by 2020, with the region continuing to add subscribers at a faster rate than the global average. The four largest markets in the region – China, India, Indonesia and Japan – together accounted for more than three-quarters of the region’s total subscriber base. India alone is expected to add nearly 250 million new subscribers by 2020 but smaller countries in the region such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar and Pakistan will also make major contributions to subscriber growth.

Mobile broadband (3G/4G) accounted for 45 per cent of total mobile connections in Asia Pacific last year, forecast to rise to 70 per cent by 2020 as operators continue to invest in 4G network build-outs and subscribers migrate to higher-speed networks. 4G is on track to account for more than a third of total connections in Asia Pacific by 2020. At the end of 2015, the region had 76 live 4G-LTE networks and 20 live VoLTE networks.

According to the report, 4G migration is now gathering pace in markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Meanwhile, the region’s 4G pioneers – such as South Korea, Japan and China – are driving the development of 5G mobile technologies in readiness for deployments before the end of the decade.

The number of smartphone connections in Asia Pacific totaled 1.7 billion at the end of 2015, accounting for 45 per cent of regional connections. China, India and Indonesia have been the main drivers of smartphone growth, helping the region double its overall smartphone base over the last two years. The region will add a further 1.3 billion smartphone connections by 2020, reaching 3 billion, or two-thirds of the region’s total connections base by that point.

Mobile Ecosystem a Rising Contributor to the Asian Economy

The $1.3 trillion in economic value generated by the Asia Pacific mobile industry last year (5.4 per cent of Asia Pacific GDP) is expected to rise to $1.7 billion by 2020 as the region continues to benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency made possible by increased take-up of mobile services and the adoption of new technologies such as machine-to-machine (M2M), according to the GSMA study.

The mobile ecosystem in Asia also supported 15 million jobs in 2015. This includes workers directly employed in the ecosystem and jobs that are indirectly supported by the economic activity generated by the sector. In addition to the mobile sector’s impact on the economy and labour market, it makes a substantial contribution to public sector funding; approximately $111 billion was raised in the region last year via general taxation.

Asia’s mobile industry is also playing a leading role in delivering digital inclusion and addressing the digital divide. According to the report, there were 1.8 billion citizens across Asia Pacific accessing the internet over mobile devices at the end of last year, equivalent to 45 per cent of the region’s population. It is predicted that a further 800 million people in Asia will connect to the mobile internet by 2020 (63 per cent of expected population).

You can access the study here –

[Image courtesy: GSMA]