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Asia to lead mobile-only Web population

One billion users worldwide will use mobile devices as sole form of Internet access, with over half of this number from Asia-Pacific, reveals new study.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

As the mobile broadband market continues its rapid growth, the population of users that use only their mobile devices to access the Internet will hit 1 billion by 2015, with Asia-Pacific dominating this segment of the market.

According to an Ovum study released Thursday, by 2015, some 28 percent of all mobile broadband users worldwide will use this form of connectivity as their only mode of Internet access.

Additionally, more than half of this population will be based in the Asia-Pacific region, which will account for 518.4 million mobile broadband users in 2015, up from 119.1 million in 2011. The region's market dominance is primarily due to the lack of fixed-line infrastructure in populous markets such as China and India, Ovum explained.

"Asia-Pacific's role is extremely important in the fixed-mobile services (FMS) space," Nicole McCormick, senior analyst at Ovum, said in the report. "The region has the third-highest penetration rate, at 34 percent, as well as the fastest-growing mobile-only [broadband] penetration of any region."

Fixed broadband to grow, too
Despite the growing mobile broadband adoption, the takeup rate for fixed broadband will still see growth, Ovum pointed out. This is because broadband fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) services, which encompasses users who buy both fixed and mobile broadband services, are expected to spike by 120 percent globally in the next five years to 2015.

The report added that FMC users from the Asia-Pacific region will grow from 259 million in 2011 to 465 million by 2015.

McCormick noted that in absolute terms, the region dominates the global FMC market due to the presence of China, South Korea and Japan--all of which have significant fiber-optic deployments and are large broadband markets.

"Bundling opportunities in Asia-Pacific are expected to gather pace over the forecast period as some operators continue to seek ways to protect their fixed-line revenue bases," she said.

On a macro level, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) reported on Wednesday that the global Internet population will hit the 2-billion mark this year.

Broadband was cited as the growth catalyst, with ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure noting that the technology "generates jobs, drives growth and productivity, and underpins long-term economic competitiveness".

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