SE Asia, Oceania to dominate global mobile-phone boom

Economy June 19, 2014 00:00


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SOUTHEAST ASIA and Oceania are expected to become the high growth market for the mobile-telephone industry.

Smartphone subscribers in this region are expected to increase fivefold to more than 700 million by 2019, out of a total of 1.3 billion. Currently, smartphone penetration in countries in this region varies between 20 and 60 per cent.

According to the “Ericsson Mobility Report” released early this month, three countries in the region – Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh – recorded among the five highest net additions globally for mobile subscriptions in the first quarter of this year.

Stephanie Huf, vice president for marketing, communication and government affairs, Ericsson Southeast Asia and Oceania, said that according to the “Ericsson Mobility Report” appendix that focuses on her region, mobile data traffic was expected to grow tenfold between 2013 and 2019 to reach 2 exabytes, driven by mobile applications and services heavily used by young people. An exabyte is 1 billion gigabytes.

The youth segment is a crucial driver in mobile-app adoption as well as smartphone usage, especially in the developing markets, as these people are very active in new trends and ICT (information and communications technology) services. Currently the 10-24-years age segment is the largest population group globally, and there are around 170 million young people in this region.

“This year is the first time that the company has conducted the ‘Ericsson Mobility Report’ specifically in Southeast Asia and Oceania,” Huf said.

In this region more than others, young people are more active in using smartphones for multiple purposes, from basic services such as voice and texting to Internet browsing, using social media, and watching streaming video.

In this region, youth actively use messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, KakaoTalk and LINE because their features allow them to coordinate their activities with different social-media groups, undertake private chatting with groups of friends, and access social-network platforms. Some also provide games, digital stickers, and music sharing.

“Youth culture, urbanisation, and the growth of smartphone are the three key trends driving ICT growth in this region,” Huf said.

However, the majority of mobile subscriptions in this region are on GSM/EDGE (Global System for Mobile Communica-tions/Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), at around 90 per cent. By the end of this year, GSM/EDGE subscriptions in the region will be around 65 per cent, while WCDMA/HSPA (wideband code division multiple access/high-speed packet access) subscriptions will be below 30 per cent.

Meanwhile, by the end of the year, fourth-generation LTE (Long Term Evolution) subscriptions in the region are expected to account for only 2 per cent of the total of around 20 million subscribers, and most of them are in Singapore and Australia.

There is high potential for 4G LTE in Southeast Asia/Oceania, set to grow by four times between 2013 and 2019. Beyond 2019, it is predicted that 4G will account for around 20 per cent of total mobile subscriptions in this part of the world.