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Asia's top 2008 telecom trends

Mobile users in the region can expect faster data speeds, and better access to new media content this year, IDC analyst predicts.
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Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor on

While mobile voice services will continue churning the most revenue for operators in Asia, new media content and applications are expected to gain increasing attention and market share, according to analyst IDC.

Presenting her predictions for the telecommunications industry this year, Sandra Ng, IDC's Asia-Pacific group vice president for communications, peripherals and services research, said: "We expect there to be wider broadband coverage and high [transfer] speeds of 100Mbps or higher this year in the region."

Network operators will be ramping up their spending on technology applications such as packet optimization, to improve network performance and secure their networks, said Ng.

"802.11n will be the choice [Wi-Fi standard] as some enterprises move from a mixed [wired and wireless] setup to an entirely wireless one," she said.

According to IDC statistics, 802.11b and 802.11g were the Wi-Fi standards of choice across 77 percent of the Asia-Pacific market, excluding Japan, in 2007. But the research house expects this figure to drop to 14 percent this year, while 802.11n is projected to go up to 73 percent.

Promises of higher bandwidth on mobile platforms such as HSDPA, will also push the popularity of media streaming, said Ng.

While streaming data over the mobile platform is not popular today, due to slow connections and costly mobile connection, Ng said this is expected to change with the availability of faster data speeds this year. This will also bring the price of mobile data charges down, she added.

"Mobile data services are not creating a significant impact yet, but new media will [start to] gain a lot of attention and market share," said Ng, citing social media sites such as YouTube and MySpace as examples of applications that are gaining market share.

"Content providers will expect to have such apps built right into phones, and mobile will be the bridge that connects the user to the social media service," she said.

Growing demand for new media is also creating a sense of urgency among operators in the region, in particular China.

"The larger, well-capitalized mobile carriers in the Asia-Pacific region are now ready to carve out their 4G roadmaps," Ng said, noting that China Mobile has been most aggressive in its plans, targeting to build a fully Internet Protocol (IP)-based mobile network by the first half of 2008.

Mobile voice is currently the largest revenue generator for Asia-Pacific carriers, according to IDC, and is expected to remain so for the next three years. India is the region's largest consumer of mobile voice services, the analyst said.

Overall revenues for the Asia-Pacific telecommunications market are projected to grow 11 percent from last year, fuelled in part by the emerging markets such as Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Pakistan is currently the biggest spender of telecommunications services, but is expected to be overtaken by Vietnam in 2008.

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