LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS SHANGHAI: Asia Pacific has been the biggest contributor to global subscriber growth over the last five years and that growth is forecast to continue, with Asia to account for six out of ten new subscribers worldwide over the next four years, said Mats Granryd, GSMA director general in his opening keynote this morning.
The number of individuals in Asia accessing the internet via mobile is expected to jump from 1.8 billion to 2.6 billion by 2020.
But Granryd said mobile is much more than just connectivity. “Mobile means connectivity and access to basic services and is addressing a range of challenges in the region — driving digital, financial and social inclusion.”
Mobile networks have the power to address the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals “as no other technology can”, he argued. “GSMA and mobile operators around the world are united behind the goals and ensuring that connectivity plays a key role in helping to achieve them”.
Granryd, who took the helm at the association in January, asked the audience: “What does mobile mean to a farmer in India? It means he or she will be able to access information on what the weather will be, what seeds and fertilizer to use, when to harvest and even possibly what the price will be.”
This is just one example of the “power mobile has to connect everyone and everything for a better future”, he said.
Citing figures from GSMA’s recently released Mobile Economy Asia Pacific report, he said the region already accounts for more than half of the global subscriber base. At the end of last year, 2.5 billion unique users subscribed to services in Asia Pacific – 62 per cent of the region’s population.
The region also continues to lead the world in mobile technology and service innovation, including deployment of 4G, the development of 5G and the Internet of Things, he said.
The number of 4G connections in Asia doubled in the past year to more than 600 million connections. At end of 2015, Asia had 76 live LTE networks and 20 live voice-over-LTE networks.
South Korea, Japan and China are leaders in 4G adoption, Granryd said. South Korea has the highest 4G adoption rate of any market globally – 2G networks have been switched off and LG UPlus has gone further, closing its 3G network earlier this year.