Asian mobile subscriber growth begins to subside in larger markets

This market report provides a comprehensive overview of the mobile network operator and MVNO telecom market across the various economies of Asia. The list of operators ranges from the giant China Mobile with more than 850 million subscribers right through to a number of much smaller operators with only a few thousand subscribers each. And of course there are the mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).

The focus of this report is on the operators within their individual national markets. In addition to these individual operators there are those companies such as SingTel, Vodafone, and Axiata (formerly Telekom Malaysia International) that have built a substantial presence around the Asian region beyond their own domestic market through their shareholdings in operators in multiple other markets. While this aspect of the regional operations is not discussed in any detail, it is mentioned in passing in the relevant country reviews.

The telecom market across Asia has an estimated total of 4 billion mobile subscribers by end 2016. This sector of the overall market continues to experience moderate growth; however, in the more developed markets, growth is shifting away from a focus on subscriber numbers towards the expansion of new generation platforms and increased data usage driven by value-added services and increased ARPUs.

Whilst there are still developing markets continuing to grow their mobile subscriber base at high annual rates, total market growth has eased considerably in the last few years. This is not surprising given that a significant number of markets have well and truly saturated over the last year or so.

Macau is the leading country in Asia in terms of overall mobile penetration with a penetration of 326% in 2016. Hong Kong takes second place with mobile penetration of 227% in 2016. Maldives in third place has penetration of 220% followed by Kazakhstan in fourth spot with 180%. Singapore has the fifth largest market in terms of mobile penetration with penetration reaching 149% in 2016.

Mobile broadband subscriptions are growing rapidly. While mobile and fixed will always exist in parallel, there is no doubt that with a faltering fixed network and an excellent mobile network, mobile will give fixed a run for its money.

However the reality for the success of mobile broadband is that the network will rely more and more on fibre. In the end most mobile stations will have to be connected to a fibre optic network in order to cope with the volume of traffic.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Asia – Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs

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