Telecoms retail revenues in emerging Asia-Pacific markets are forecast to increase from $229.7 billion in 2011 to $323.7 billion by 2016, according to a new report from Analysys Mason.
Growth will be driven by the adoption of data services on smartphones and other mobile devices, with 3G and 4G connections accounting for 46% of the total by 2016.
The study looks at Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand, noting that China and India account for 68% of the region’s population, 64% of active SIMs and 75% of retail revenues.
According to the market-research company, active mobile penetration rates in the region will rise to 95% by 2016, from 63% in 2011. Much of the top-line growth will come from China, where revenues will increase from $138 billion in 2011 to $194 billion in 2016.
“As mobile penetration approaches 100%, operators in the emerging APAC region will look to rural areas, and opportunities to provide customers with more than one SIM, in order to maintain growth in subscriber numbers, while developing more sophisticated strategies to drive mobile data revenue and encourage retention within a largely prepaid subscriber base,” said Alexandra Rehak, co-author of the report.
Despite the excitement surrounding LTE, the 4G technology will have a limited impact over the forecast period, says Analysys Mason, due to a limited range of affordable devices, delays to spectrum auctions and capital-expenditure constraints among operators.
Even by 2016, LTE devices will account for just 5% of the active SIM base in the region.
In the meantime, 3G is set to become the dominant emerging Asia-Pac mobile technology, accounting for 41% of active SIMs by 2016, compared with just 11% in 2011.
Operators reading the report will be disappointed by its forecast that mobile ARPU will continue to decline. Having already fallen from a regional average of $10 a month in 2008 to $7.40 in 2011, it is set to hit $6.5 by 2016.
The decline so far has been caused by falling prices as services are extended to lower-income users, as well as the adoption of multiple SIMs by some customers. Analysys Mason reckons greater spending on non-voice services will somewhat mitigate these effects in future.