Archive for March, 2010

Spectacular growth in the Asian Mobile Voice Market

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Mobile markets in Asia continued to experience strong growth during 2009 and into 2010, this despite many countries being close to or over the 100% penetration mark. With total subscriber numbers in the region having grown by around 20% in 2009, there was certainly some moderation of growth taking place, but the underlying strength of the market was still evident. It was anticipated that by end-2010 there would be around 2.6 billion mobile subscribers across Asia.

Of special note has been the remarkable growth in the two massive markets of India and China where monthly net additions are regularly between 10 million and 15 million subscribers. These two countries alone account for over 22% and 35% overall market share in the Asia region respectively; or a combined 57%.

There is still room for mobile growth in Asia. Markets with large populations and relatively low penetration rates, such as India, China, Philippines, Pakistan and Indonesia, will continue to grow at a rapid rate. In the more mature markets such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, mobile numbers will rise less than 5%. Growth is being driven by various factors, including government investment to drive the economy; infrastructure building after years of neglect or fixing the after effects in war torn countries, and also major foreign investment.

In the developing economies quick and easy mobile uptake is the preferred, and often only, option for subscribers, exacerbated by low fixed-line deployments. These countries also offer investors the promise of continued growth of the mobile infrastructure and subscriber numbers. While subscriber growth and market share is important in the developing economies, there comes a point where the venture must result in profit.

Operators still face the huge challenge of trying to prevent ARPU slide as mobile services spread to poorer parts of the country and the population. To some extent, a large customer base will help to offset low spend but it is also anticipated that new non-voice services will help to drive revenue. Operators are developing mobile services such as mobile banking, remittence payments, and mobile health services that take advantage of a lack of access by the poor to social infrastructure such as banks and hospitals.

Asia – mobile subscribers by country – 2009 – 2010

Country 2009 (million) 2010 (e)(million)
Afghanistan 13.00 18.00
Armenia 2.55 2.60
Azerbaijan 7.00 8.25
Bangladesh 49.00 53.00
Bhutan 0.39 0.50
Brunei Darussalam 0.45 0.49
Cambodia 5.10 6.30
China 747.40 860.00
Georgia 4.00 4.50
Hong Kong 12.05 12.70
India 505.00 760.00
Indonesia 150.00 180.00
Japan 111.00 116.50
Kazakhstan 16.50 18.00
Kyrgyzstan 4.50 5.30
Laos 2.60 3.25
Macau 1.04 1.09
Malaysia 30.40 33.40
Maldives 0.43 0.45
Mongolia 1.95 2.05
Myanmar 0.42 0.48
Nepal 6.29 8.20
Pakistan 97.60 110.00
Philippines 78.50 86.00
Singapore 6.85 7.30
South Korea 47.90 48.40
Sri Lanka 14.00 15.50
Taiwan 26.50 27.50
Tajikistan 4.10 5.00
Thailand 67.50 73.00
Turkmenistan 1.80 2.70
Uzbekistan 18.40 25.75
Vietnam 111.00 127.00
Total 2,145.22 2,623.21

(Source: BuddeComm)

For more information see new BuddeComm Report : Asian Mobile Voice Market

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Dominican Republic enjoys strong telecoms investment and Internet growth

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Although the global financial crisis took its toll on the economies of the Caribbean region, which contracted by an average of 2% during 2009, the Dominican Republic stood in stark contrast with positive growth of around 2%. Accordingly, investment in telecommunications and emerging services such as wireless broadband and VoIP continued to strengthen during 2009, with investments of around $750 million. Internet growth in the Dominican Republic relative to the rest of Latin America has also been impressive in 2009, with Internet users growing by 40% to over 3 million, more than double the number of users in Jamaica, its nearest Caribbean rival in terms of Internet user numbers.

See also Dominican Republic – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts.

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US relaxes telecoms sector restrictions with Cuba

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

In mid-2009 the Obama administration issued new policies in relation to US-Cuban relations, half of which related to the telecommunications sector. The steps were prefaced by a statement from the Obama administration saying it aimed to “promote the freer flow of information” to the Cuban people.

Specifically, the Obama administration ruled that:

  • US telecoms companies were authorized to establish themselves in Cuba, through the establishing of facilities, setting up of roaming agreements or the provision of satellite radio and TV services;
  • US residents were allowed to enter into service agreements with US telecoms companies providing services to Cuba; and
  • US residents and telecoms companies were allowed to donate certain telecommunications devices to Cuba without a licence.

By early 2010 it was still unclear whether the Cuban government would approve the US policy steps.

See also Cuba – Telecoms Mobile and Broadband.

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Telstra’s mobile media business

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

In November 2009 Telstra launched a new Bigpond Mobile portal featuring a customisable modular layout.

The Bigpond Mobile portal is organised around a three tab structure, Home, Web and My. Much of the portal is unmetered, allowing customers on the Telstra Next G network to browse, download and stream content free of data charges. Unmetered pages feature a ‘green dot’ indicator in the header.

Home features the content customers are most often looking for, presented in a modular format, that personalises itself to the customer’s usage.

The Web tab presents collections of useful links to the mobile web, acting as a starting point for customers wanting to browse off-portal.

The My tab points customers to their Bill, Alerts, Purchases and Data Usage history. A listing of Most Used parts of the portal and the Last Used parts of the portal enables customers to navigate quickly through intelligent shortcuts.

The content available on the Bigpond Mobile portal includes:

  • News
  • Weather
  • Finance
  • Sport
  • Movies
  • Celebrity and Fashion
  • Mobile TV
  • Games
  • Apps
  • Ringtones (including Caller Tones) and Music
  • Wallpapers and Screensavers
  • Directories (Yellow, White Pages, Whereis and Citysearch)
  • Trading Post
  • Shopping

Telstra’s SMS service allows customers to send short text messages from their mobile phone, home phone and PC. For the 2009 financial year, Telstra customers sent more than 8.9 billion text messages.

Telstra has messaging services for its consumer, business and enterprise customers. Customers can send and receive text messages from their Telstra mobile phone. Telstra home phone customers can also receive and send text messages from their SMS capable home phone to other Telstra home phone and Telstra mobiles. Telstra also provides integration of SMS into Telstra’s MyConnect online email for BigPond customers.

Business and Enterprise customers can use an online tool that allows the sending of SMS and MMS messages, providing the flexibility of communicating with customers or managing workforce productivity by communicating with their employees.

For more info see:

Telstra Corporation Limited – Company Overview and Operating Statistics

Telstra Corporation Limited – Financial Statistics

Australia – Digital Media – Music, MP3 & Podcasting

Australia – Digital Media – Video Entertainment – Telcos & ISPs

Australia – Mobile Media – Mobile TV

Australia – Mobile Media – Providers

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Asia’s leading Mobile Operators

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Going into 2010, there was a combined total of close to 2.1 billion mobile subscribers being served by the 170 mobile operators in Asia and this is expected to reach a total of over 2.5 billion by year end. The list of operators ranges from the giant China Mobile with more than 500 million subscribers right through to a number of small operators with only a few thousand subscribers each. It is noted that of the region’s operators just 15 of these have a combined share of around 68% of the regional mobile market. BuddeComm’s overview of operators in the region does not claim to present an exhaustive list of licensed operators but it certainly is indicative of the breadth and variety of operator to be found in the region. It also reflects the highly competitive nature of the mobile sector in this region.

The focus of a new BuddeComm report is on the operators within the individual national markets. Of course, in addition to these individual operators there are those companies such as SingTel, Vodafone, Hutchison and Axiata (formerly Telekom Malaysia International) that have built a substantial presence around the region through their shareholdings in operators in multiple markets. This aspect of these corporations is not discussed in any detail but is mentioned in passing in the country by country review.

The table below shows the top 15 operators as ranked by subscribers at December 2009. The list has remained relatively stable over the last year or so. Compared to the top 15 at the end of 2007, SK Telecom has dropped off the list and Viettel has come in at number 11 on the table.

Top 15 mobile operators in Asia (by subscribers) – 2009

Rank Operator Country Subscribers(million)
1 China Mobile China 522.3
2 China Unicom China 147.6
3 Bharti India 118.9
4 Reliance Communications India 96.0
5 Vodafone Essar1 India 90.0
6 Telkomsel Indonesia 76.0
7 BSNL India 63.0
8 Idea Cellular India 57.0
9 China Telecom China 56.1
10 NTT DoCoMo Japan 55.4
11 Viettel Vietnam 45.0
12 Smart Communications Philippines 41.0
13 KDDI Japan 31.4
14 PMCL Pakistan 30.8
15 Indosat Indonesia 30.0

(Source: BuddeComm based on Global Mobile data)

Note: 1Formerly Hutchison.

With the progressive opening up of markets to more competition, we have seen the licensing of more and more operators in the various countries of the region. One phenomenon in Asia has been the granting of a significant number of mobile operator licences in what have been regarded as smaller markets, ie with relatively low populations as well as low income per capita. We have seen this occur for example in Cambodia, Laos and Georgia. Cambodia has been the standout market in this regard; with the licensing of Vimpelcom in 2009 this market had nine mobile operators for a country whose population was just under 15 million and GDP per capita was less than US$800. The market in Vietnam also became more competitive in 2009 with the arrival of the VimpelCom-backed GTEL-Mobile, the number of operators in Vietnam jumping to seven as a result. No doubt markets like Cambodia and Vietnam will need to go through some form of market rationalisation in the future.

There are only a handful of countries that still cling to a single state-owned incumbent structure today. Typically markets are characterised by a number of operators in each market competing on price, service quality, service offering and other market areas to win market share, build customer bases and healthy businesses. We have seen markets like India where some rather complex licensing systems saw dozens of operators enter the market; this was followed by a period of market rationalisation, which it is generally agreed ultimately produced a highly effective commercial environment. Similar processes have taken place right across the region.

This new BuddeComm market report provides a wide-ranging review of mobile operators across the Asian region. The overview covers around 170 operators that were to be found in Asia in 2010. For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Asia Mobile Operators

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