LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS SHANGHAI 2015: While Asia, home to 1.8 billion unique subscribers and 3.7 billion mobile connections at the end of Q1, leads the global mobile industry, it should continue to focus on driving digital inclusion to connect the unconnected, urged Anne Bouverot, director-general GSMA, at the opening keynote of MWC Shanghai 2015.
“Asia has some of the world’s most advanced mobile markets which are seeing rapid technological migrations towards mobile broadband networks and smartphones,” she said, “but overall penetration rates for the region are lower than global average”.
She pointed out that South Korea currently has the third highest rate of smartphone adoption globally and that South Korea and Japan lead the world in terms of LTE adoption, while China, the world’s largest LTE market in connections, is seeing a much faster migration to LTE than either Europe or North America.
What’s more, by 2020, one-third of connections in Asia-Pacific will be on LTE, with network coverage extending to 76 per cent of the population.
“It’s not just the availability of advanced services such as LTE and VoLTE in more advanced countries – we see innovation in developing markets where mobile is providing access to essential services such as financial services, healthcare and education and more,” she noted.
Asia is also leading the way in devices – 90 per cent of handset models released in 2014 came from Asian-based vendors. China in particular has been a source of innovation and the development of a relatively unique mobile ecosystem.
As for digital inclusion, by the end of 2014, a third of the population was using mobile to access internet and this will grow to half in 2020.
Bouverot described this as “good progress” but added that “much more needs to be done to connect the other half of the population. Operators, ecosystem players, governments and regulators all have a role in addressing barriers to internet adoption and improving reach and affordability of mobile services. It’s important to our industry but also humanity.”