Emerging Asia to add 0.5bn mobile users by 2012

Asia's emerging markets, comprising eight nations, are expected to see mobile subscriber net gains of 573 million by end-2012, breaching the one billion mark to close the year at an estimated 1.06 billion subscribers, a report from research firm Frost & Sullivan said.

In 2007, these emerging markets were home to some 487 million mobile users, accounting for 37.1% of Asia-Pacific's total mobile subscriber base, the report said.

The report also said the mobile services sector in eight emerging Asia-Pac countries (excluding China) earned revenues of €22.6 billion (US$33.27 billion) in 2007. This is predicted to reach €42 billion (US$61.35 billion) by end-2013, at a CAGR of 10.7% (2007-2013).

Growing at a CAGR of 15.1% (2007-2013), the mobile subscriber base is expected to hit 1.13 billion by end-2013 to account for 46% of Asia-Pac's total subscribers.

Countries included in this study are Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam; all with mobile penetration rates of under 50%.

According to Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Jeff Teh, over half of the world's mobile networks are believed to exist in emerging markets.

'Most mature markets in Europe, the Americas and even Asia are fast reaching saturation, adding fewer connections and offering fewer growth opportunities. As mobile operators in Asia scramble to add another staggering one billion subscribers onto their networks, Asia's emerging nations offer the most palpable growth prospects, particularly in the rural sectors,' Teh said.

He adds that such opportunities are however not without a gamble 'the inherent characteristics across these emerging markets are that they are generally lower-income hence low ARPU segments, with blended ARPU as low as €2.65 (US$3.90) per month in some countries, and subscribers are largely inclined towards prepaid services.

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