Smartphones, tablets to drive APAC mobile broadband

Smartphones and tablet devices supersede netbooks and laptops as primary device drivers of mobile broadband traffic, while social networking and videos highlighted as key revenue growth opportunities, in Asia-Pacific, new survey shows.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor on

Smartphones and tablets have superseded netbooks and laptops to be the top two device drivers of mobile broadband traffic in the Asia-Pacific region, a new survey has revealed. Social networking and video consumption on these devices will also create growth opportunities for operators.

Released Wednesday by research firm Ovum and Telecom Asia, the mobile broadband industry survey revealed that 50 percent of respondents identified smartphones as the major driver of mobile broadband traffic in Asia, while tablet devices came in second at 25 percent. Netbooks and laptops, which topped the list last year, fell to third this year, it noted.

"Operators view tablet devices as a more natural fit than laptops or netbooks as they have the same lifecycle, operating system and data model as smartphones," Nicole McCormick, senior analyst at Ovum, said in the report.

The online survey was conducted in December 2010 and January 2011, polling 178 telecoms executives from more than 20 countries across Asia-Pacific, including Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Japan.

With regard to activities that will spur user demand for mobile broadband, the survey reported that social networking headed the list. Included in the survey for the first time this year, social networking was identified by 31 percent of respondents as applications that will drive the majority of traffic growth, while video clocked at 30 percent and Web browsing at 17 percent to complete the top three applications.

Comparatively, Web browsing was identified as the top activity among users consuming mobile data, the report noted.

Drilling further into the results, respondents from Indonesia and Malaysia saw social networking as offering the most growth potential while the developed markets of Australia, Singapore and Taiwan viewed video as the main driver of traffic growth, the survey showed.

Ovum added that the increasing popularity of social networking will require operators to reevaluate their pricing models with a view to monetizing social networking services.

"For example, we particularly like the Philippines model of charging a daily rate for unlimited access to social network," stated the report. "In developed markets, operators could charge a small monthly fee for unlimited access to social networking services, rather than offering these on a free unlimited basis for big- and small-screen users."

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