Asia has almost 1b mobile users, says report

Asia's mobile industry is estimated to grow by 22% in 2006 to reach close to a billion subscribers by year's end, including Japan's 100 million subscribers, a report from Frost & Sullivan said.

Given the markets' infancy and vast population base, India and Indonesia were likely to fuel a significant portion of the growth, the report also said.

Frost & Sullivan said the implementation of "lifetime validity" in India, as well as the ongoing network expansion into rural areas in developing cellular markets would further help sustain the mobile industry's high growth in the region.

Although the growing popularity of prepaid services had been a major driver of subscriber growth in the region, the influence of the low-end market was likely to be more pronounced in the coming years, the report said.

Factors contributing to the growth of the low-end market included the launch of low-cost entry-level mobile handsets, the move into rural areas for long-term sustainable growth, the continuous price cuts in call rates, and the introduction of affordable flat- rate pricing plans, the report further said.