Mobile coverage improves across Asia Pacific, but gap remains: GSMA

  • Only 44% of population using mobile internet services
  • Mobile broadband networks covers approx 96% of APAC population

Mobile coverage improves across Asia Pacific, but gap remains: GSMA

The GSM Association said mobile broadband networks cover around 96% of the population but gaps still remain as just 44% of the population (1.23 billion users) are using mobile internet services.

In a statement, the trade association said the findings came from its latest Mobile Economy Asia Pacific 2022 report, which noted that while operators’ investment in 3G, 4G and, increasingly, 5G infrastructure, has borne fruit, there still exists a marked discrepancy.

The reasons for this include lack of digital skills, affordability and online safety concerns, therefore this year’s report outlines how countries are addressing this usage gap, it said.

GSMA’s head of Asia Pacific Julian Gorman said addressing the usage gap and extending the benefits of the internet to more people in society is critical. 

“However it will require a concerted effort by a broad range of stakeholders, working together with mobile operators and other ecosystem players such as device manufacturers and digital content creators, to drive adoption and overcome the barriers we see today,” he said.

The report noted that mobile technologies and services continued to make a significant contribution to Asia Pacific’s economy, generating 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the region in 2021, which equates to around US$770 billion (RM3.4 trillion) of economic value. 

This ecosystem supported approximately 8.8 million jobs in 2021 and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with around $80 billion raised through taxation, it added.

GSMA also said 5G adoption is set to accelerate across the Asia Pacific region as the technology’s footprint expands.

Today, it is commercially available in 14 markets, with others, including India and Vietnam, going live in the coming months, it added.

The report forecasts that by 2025, there will be more than 400 million 5G connections, equivalent to just over 14% of total mobile connections. 

Progress is more advanced in countries like Australia, Japan and South Korea and in Singapore 5G is expected to account for 55% of the country’s connections by 2025, it said.

The report also explores the advent of the metaverse and highlights various 5G use cases and other related activities in the region.

It said notably, government bodies in the region have started outlining plans to harness the potential of the platform to increase the efficiency and quality of public services. 

For example, South Korea has plans to spend US$186.7 million (RM826.5 million) to create its metaverse ecosystem, and Thailand’s Tourism Authority leveraged the technology to boost tourism in the country. 

The reported also noted that policy makers and regulators can fuel growth and innovation by establishing a flexible forward-looking regulatory regime to support mobile network deployment and operations.

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