Although Asia Pacific features some of the world’s most advanced mobile markets, it’s still behind the global average for penetration rates. While Hong Kong, Austrlia, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have very high subscriber rates, the likes of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have a combined population of over 1.6 billion, but an average unique subscriber penetration rate of only 36%. Therefore, connecting the still unconnected populations across the region remains one of the major challenges facing the mobile industry and policy makers over the coming years.
By 2020, there are likely to be 1.7 billion more smartphone connections in Asia Pacific, with more than have of this future growth coming from India and China. This will be driven by greater mobile broadband coverage and more affordable devices.
Mobile internet access is set to reach half the region’s population by 2020, though the predominantly rural unconnected population will continue to experience barriers to mobile internet adoption through their low income and high level of illiteracy. The report calls for operators, other ecosystem players, governments and regulators to address these barriers and improve the reach and affordability of mobile services. Furthermore, there is pressure on policy makers to develop clear and supportive regulatory frameworks for new sectors, such as health and financial services delivered via mobile channels.