Mobile to drive 3.8B voice connections

New study shows mobile will account for 83 percent of voice market in Asia, boosting connections from 2.2 billion this year to 3.8 billion by 2017.

Asia will host 3.8 billion voice connections by 2017, with mobile accounting for 83 percent of the total market, according to a new study released Thursday by research firm Ovum.

By the end of 2008, mobile will make up 76 percent of the region's overall voice connections, which will ring in at 2.2 billion, the report said.

In an e-mail interview with ZDNet Asia, Ovum's research director David Kennedy noted that mobile will be the dominant growth engine for the projected 1.6 billion new voice connections between 2008 and 2017.

This expansion will largely be boosted by the size of emerging markets, specifically India and China, though Indonesia and Vietnam are expected to make "an important long-term contribution", Kennedy explained.

In fact, the four countries will account for 83 percent of new voice connections in Asia through to 2012, he added.

"What emerges clearly is that developed and developing markets in the Asian region are on different growth tracks," he said. "Developed markets in Asia display similar growth patterns to developed markets in Europe, with fixed voice playing an ongoing role and tougher competition in mobile."

Mobile voice, however, currently dominate Asia's emerging economies and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, Kennedy said, where the typical voice connection in these markets is a mobile phone.

Voice prices will continue to fall, the Ovum study determined, with traditional fixed telephony fees dropping at an average 3.1 percent per year in developed markets, and 3.4 percent per year in emerging markets between 2008 and 2017.

Mobile voice prices will dip by 5.8 percent per year in developed markets, and 4.7 percent in emerging markets over the same period.

Kennedy also noted that voice revenues have peaked in developed markets, and are expected to slide by 14.7 percent through to 2017 in developed markets. This decline is largely due to intensifying price competition, particularly in the mobile space, he said.

Revenues in emerging markets, however, will enjoy a growth of 47.6 percent due to "spectacular mobile connection growth" and in spite of declining mobile prices.

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