According to the GSMA Asia Pacific Mobile Observatory 2011 report, mobile penetration in Asia Pacific will reach a landmark three billion connections in Q1 2012 — nearly two years earlier than projected in the region's 2009 Mobile Observatory. By 2015, it is expected that the region will reach 4.1 billion connections, growing at twice the rate of Europe and North America, and will account for 40 per cent of mobile data traffic worldwide.
Tom Phillips, Chief Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer, GSMA commented: "Asia Pacific is one of the world's fastest-growing mobile markets, through an impressive combination of investment and innovation. China alone currently has 940 million total mobile connections, exceeding the total number of connections in Europe and the US combined."
The extensive growth in penetration of mobile services in Asia Pacific — from just 12 per cent in 2002 to 78 per cent in 2011 — is largely due to mobile operators in the region's major markets investing an average of 16.3 per cent of their revenues into capital expenditure, significantly higher than their counterparts in other parts of the world. Other key factors include:
- Investment in Mobile Broadband infrastructure, as many operators across the region are already driving HSPA+/LTE rollouts;
- Cost-effective pre-paid services (84 per cent of Asia Pacific connections versus 66 per in Europe and 15 per cent in USA/Canada);
- Introduction of low-cost handsets and reduction in mobile usage prices;
- Innovative business models including infrastructure sharing and unique distribution strategies, making the expansion of network coverage to rural areas economically viable for operators and consumers; and
- Limited fixed-line infrastructure, driving many consumers to adopt mobile communications.
Mobile connectivity has rendered significant social and economic benefits for the Asia Pacific region. The mobile market across the AP17* countries currently generates an estimated US$485 billion, or 2.7 per cent of total GDP, with mobile operators alone contributing over US$310 billion in 2010. The industry is also a significant