The GSMA today published an assessment of the impact of the mobile industry on the Asia Pacific region. The new report confirms the region’s position at the forefront of mobile innovation, with the number of unique mobile subscribers having outpaced the rest of the world over the last decade, reaching 1.5 billion at the end of 2012.
In 2017, it is expected that Asia Pacific will reach 1.9 billion unique mobile subscribers, accounting for almost half of the predicted global total of 3.9 billion.
“Mobile is already having a profound impact across all Asia Pacific countries, with spectacular growth in service penetration, driven by investment in infrastructure and continued innovation in devices and services,” said Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA
The rapid penetration of mobile services and early roll-out of mobile broadband networks is driving profound economic change in Asia Pacific. As of the end of 2012, the mobile industry had invested US $80 billion in mobile infrastructure, generated US $1 trillion in GDP for Asia Pacific economies and contributed US $100 billion to public funding. With access to vital spectrum resources and regulatory policy focused on driving further investment, for the period through 2020, the mobile industry could contribute an additional US$2.3 trillion to GDP and a further US $200 billion to public funding.
The GSMA is calling for changes that will further enable citizens throughout the region to reap the benefits of mobile. Consistent and fair long-term regulatory frameworks and taxation policies are needed to incentivise, not restrict, investment in mobile and spur regional economic growth and welfare improvement. For example, the Universal Service Obligation Framework (USOF) should be revisited to ensure that goals and levies are aligned to drive the availability of mobile services in areas not yet fully connected by mobile.
The timely availability of spectrum will also be critical in enabling the mobile industry to extend, upgrade and deliver new services. Regional Governments should be led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standards on the bands and amounts of spectrum made available to mobile operators as they seek to upgrade networks to 3G or 4G services. The drive towards band harmonisation, in line with the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) band plan, is a critical part of this process, as up to 30 per cent of the benefits of the switch from analogue to digital TV broadcasts depend on harmonisation of the 700MHz band across the region.
Bouverot added: “Mobile is already a significant engine for growth and welfare improvement throughout the Asia Pacific region. Now there is a clear opportunity for mobile to further transform lives, create new businesses and drive additional economic growth. If regulators are focused on creating environments that encourage further investment, from both traditional and new mobile players, then this opportunity is well within the reach of all countries with the region, regardless of their level of economic development.”