More than 35% of mobile connections will be 4G by 2016 in developed Asia–Pacific markets, Analysys Mason reports

Developing appropriate pricing and differentiation strategies for 4G services will be a critical challenge for operators in Asia wanting to monetise investments in 4G as advanced mobile networks are rolled out across the region, according to Analysys Mason's new report, The developed Asia–Pacific telecoms market: trends and forecasts 2011–2016.

The report analyses and forecasts mobile trends and revenue for key regional markets including Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. “We expect that around one-third of handsets in developed telecoms markets in Asia–Pacific, and most smartphones in the region, will use 4G connections by the end of 2016. Furthermore, 62% of the region’s non-handset mobile broadband connections (USB modems and mid-screen devices) will be 4G by 2016,” said Alexandra Rehak, Head of Telecoms Research at Analysys Mason.

While operators have already launched commercial 4G services in key regional markets such as Japan and South Korea, spectrum constraints are delaying LTE in other major markets such as Taiwan,” said Rehak. According to the report, take-up of 3G and 4G will be the key driving factor for mobile data revenue in the region. 3G will account for 90% of connections (mobile handset and mobile broadband) in 2012, but its share will decline after that as it is supplanted by 4G.

Analysys Mason predicts that overall mobile penetration in the region will grow from 113% at the end of 2011 to 134% by the end of 2016. However, revenue will grow more slowly than mobile connections: retail mobile revenue in the region will grow by only 6.7%, from USD121.3 billion in 2011 to USD129.4 billion in 2016.

  • According to the report, most of the growth in new mobile connections is expected to come from mobile broadband provided via USB modems and other mid-screen devices such as connected tablets and e-readers.
  • Non-handset mobile broadband SIMs will account for 75% of net additions to mobile connections in the region between 2011 and 2016, jumping from 6% of mobile connections in 2011, to 17% by the end of 2016.

Smartphones will dominate the handset market during the forecast period. Developed Asia–Pacific markets will have 206 million smartphones by the end of 2016, accounting for 77% of active handsets, up from 26% at the end of 2011. Smartphone penetration is already high in some countries in the region, thanks in part to handset subsidies: more than 40% of mobile handsets in Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea were smartphones by the end of 2011.  “Promoting smartphone take-up will be a key feature of mobile operators’ tactics for increasing usage of, and revenue from, mobile handset data services, while declining smartphone prices will drive penetration,” notes Rehak.

  • Mobile data services will play a significant role in compensating for declining mobile voice revenue during the forecast period. Mobile data’s share of mobile retail revenue will grow from 44% in 2011 to 55% in 2016.

Revenue from mobile broadband (non-handset-based) services will almost triple between 2010 and 2016, while messaging revenue will decline by just under 4% per annum.

This report is available to purchase online for USD7999 via http://www.analysysmason.com/Research/Content/Reports/DVAP-forecast-RDRP0-Apr2012/