Feature Article

June 09, 2014

Half of World's Mobile Subscribers Live in Asia Pacific Region

Half of the world’s mobile subscribers live in the Asia Pacific region, according to the GSMA.

At the end of 2013 there were 1.7 billion unique mobile subscribers in the Asia Pacific region, representing half of the 3.4 billion global subscriber base.

Total mobile connections in Asia Pacific stood at 3.4 billion at the end of 2013 and are forecast to increase to 4.8 billion by 2020.

The number of Asia Pacific subscribers is expected to grow by 5.5 percent a year on a compound annual rate through 2020.

Only Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow at a faster rate during the period.

The majority of Asia Pacific mobile subscribers are currently concentrated in four major markets: China, India, Japan and Indonesia, in order of size.

Together, these account for 75 percent of the region’s subscribers and over a third of the global subscriber base.

Image via Shutterstock

China, the world’s largest mobile market, represented 630 million unique mobile subscribers at the end of 2013, representing about 46 percent of the country’s population.

According to GSMA Intelligence research, there were 1.13 billion active mobile connections in China at the end of 2013, which means millions of Chinese subscribers use more than one SIM card or device; there were 1.79 SIM cards per unique subscriber in China at the end of 2013.

The Asia Pacific region is diverse, including “developed” Australia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea and developing markets such as India or Myanmar.

With 1.7 billion mobile customers in Asia Pacific, subscriber penetration at the end of 2013 was 43 percent compared to a global average of around 50 per cent.

Significantly, mobile Internet access already is a major component of mobile revenue and services in markets including China, where 500 million Chinese citizens bought mobile Internet services at the end of 2013, compared to 130 million Chinese subscribers who do not use mobile Internet services.

It is estimated that the total number of Chinese Internet users stood at just over 600 million in 2013, meaning that more than 80 percent access the Internet using mobile devices.

In fact, some 69 percent of Chinese mobile internet subscribers access the Internet using mobile broadband networks (3G/4G), with the remainder using 2G.

In Asia Pacific as a whole, just over a quarter of the 3.4 billion mobile connections in the region at the end of 2013 were 3G, while three percent of connections were running 4G.

However, these figures are forecast to rise to 34 percent and 28 percent, respectively, of the 4.8 billion total connections expected by 2020.

South Korea is the world’s most advanced 4G market and is the only country to date to have covered 100 percent of its population by 4G networks. At the end of 2013, over half of all mobile connections in South Korea were running on 4G networks, the highest 4G penetration rate of any country worldwide. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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