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3G, LTE spur APAC mobile Internet network growth

Third- and fourth-generation networks see increased demand, thanks to mobile data traffic growth, which in turn is driving demand for mobile Web infrastructure in Asia.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

The explosion of smartphones and tablets--and the subsequent data traffic--has driven demand for third-generation (3G) and long-term evolution (LTE) networks in Asia-Pacific. That in turn has pushed the need for more networking equipment in the region, churning mobile Internet infrastructure revenues of over US$400 million in the second quarter of this year.

According to Synergy Research Group, this growth would continue at a yearly rate of 30 percent.

In a statement Friday, the research firm said the number of 3G subscribers in Asia reached 381 million in mid-2011, having spiked 51 percent over the previous 12 months. Japan and China accounted for over half of the subscribers, though the "big growth numbers" were from China, India and Indonesia, it added.

While investment in mobile Internet infrastructure were focused on building out LTE, or fourth-generation networks, Synergy Research noted that it was "still early days" for LTE, on which subscriber numbers remained small.

It observed that LTE networks are already live in six Asia-Pacific countries, with Hong Kong, Japan and Uzbekistan leading the charge, followed by the Philippines, Singapore and South Korea.

"With the number of 3G and LTE subscribers in the Asia-Pacific region forecast to triple within the next four years, this will be a tremendously exciting time for vendors," Jeremy Duke, Synergy Research's founder and principal analyst, said in the statement. He added that he anticipated strong growth opportunities for infrastructure vendors in all countries across the region.

Noting the "explosion" of smartphones and tablets, Duke pointed out the need for "some powerful networks to support all of these burgeoning devices and applications [on those devices]".

In an earlier ZDNet Asia report last month, a Qualcomm executive said there was "considerable momentum" with LTE networks as well as LTE-enabled handsets. Analysts also noted that the number of operators in Asia-Pacific committed to migrating to LTE was "encouraging".

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