LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS SHANGHAI: The mobile industry in Asia Pacific contributed $1.1 trillion to the region’s economy in 2014, equivalent to 4.7 per cent of the region’s GDP, fuelled by rising mobile broadband and smartphone penetration, according to a GSMA report published ahead of Mobile World Congress Shanghai.
The report, titled ‘The Mobile Economy: Asia Pacific 2015’, says that this is an increase of nearly $200 billion compared to the previous year with over a quarter ($286 billion) of the contribution generated directly by mobile operators.
What’s more, Asia Pacific now accounts for half of the world’s unique mobile subscribers and mobile connections and will continue to grow at a faster pace than the global average over the next five years, adding 600 million new unique subscribers by 2020.
In 2014 the mobile ecosystem directly and indirectly employed 12.5 million people in Asia Pacific, a figure expected to rise to 15 million by 2020.
The findings of the report “demonstrate how mobile is enabling digital inclusion and building digital societies across Asia, supporting a new era of innovation in areas such as digital commerce, the Internet of Things and mobile identity”, according to Anne Bouverot, director general of the GSMA.
Migration to 4G networks and services in markets such as China is now occurring at a faster rate than in developed regions such as Europe and North America, supported by rapidly expanding 4G network coverage and the increasing adoption of 4G smartphones, the report notes.
However, many of the largest markets in the region are still relatively underpenetrated. For instance, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have a combined population of over 1.6 billion but a unique subscriber penetration rate of only 36 per cent on average.
“Connecting these unconnected citizens will therefore be a major focus for both the mobile industry and policymakers in the region over the coming years,” the report said.
Total mobile connections in the region stood at 3.7 billion in Q1 2015. 4G accounted for 9 per cent of connections, a figure expected to reach a third of the total by 2020.
4G migration varies widely across the region; South Korea and Japan lead the world in 4G adoption, but the region also contains markets where 4G deployments are at an early stage, such as India, Indonesia and Pakistan, or where 4G licensing has yet to take place, such as Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Smartphones now account for 40 per cent of connections in the Asia Pacific region and are set to account for two-thirds of the total by the end of the decade. Alongside expanding mobile broadband coverage, smartphone adoption is driving strong growth in mobile data traffic.
Another recent GSMA report revealed that smartphones are on track to account for two-thirds of mobile connections in China by the end of this year.