Mobile numbers soar in emerging Asia

A robust demand for mobile services is driving cellular growth in the emerging Asian markets of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, says research house IDC.

The four markets grew a combined 72.9% to $3.1 billion in 2006, with subscribers up 118.5% to 89.3 million.

In 2006, voice revenue increased 66.4% year-on-year while non-voice revenue grew 103.6% and accounted for 20.5% of the total mobile service revenue - a big jump from 2005, says IDC.

Mobile penetration is still low in these countries at below 30%. Growth in the prepaid segment, which dominates the market at 95% of the total subscriber base, continued to be more aggressive than that of the contract segment. Prepaid subscribers in all four countries surged by 124.8% in 2006, while contract subscribers grew more fairly at 42.6%.

IDC forecasts a strong compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.9% for mobile services revenue in all four countries over the next five years.