Asia-Pacific to top 1B mobile subscribers

Buoyed by growth in developing markets, the region will represent nearly 45 percent of the world's mobile phone subscribers by year-end.

The Asia-Pacific region looks set to surpass the 1 billion mobile subscription barrier by the end of October, a new report has predicted.

According to Informa Telecoms & Media's latest World Cellular Information Service report, the number of mobile subscriptions in the Asia-Pacific region has doubled in just three years. This brings up the regional subscriber base from 600 million in 2004 to more than 1 billion by the end of 2006.

In a press release issued Monday, Informa's principal analyst Liz Hall attributed one of the key growth drivers to higher mobile phone penetration in China, India and Pakistan.

In the first nine months of 2006, Hall noted, the mobile subscription base in the Asia-Pacific region rose by 160 million with China, India and Pakistan accounting for 70 percent of this growth.

Other developing countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam also showed significant growth during 2006--adding a combined total of 25 million new subscriptions during the first nine months of the year.

Hall added that, while the Asia-Pacific region represents nearly 40 percent of the world's mobile subscriptions, mobile penetration stands at just 30 percent. "This means 2.6 billion people within the region have yet to be connected to a mobile cellular service."

In terms of the subscription penetration rate in the region, Hong Kong tops the chart with 113 percent penetration, followed closely by Australia (100.6 percent) and Taiwan (99.6 percent).

Informa forecasts that the Asia-Pacific region will account for 45 percent of global subscription growth by the end of this year and will rise to well over 50 percent by 2007.

Farihan Bahrin is a freelance IT writer based in Singapore.