ITU Telecom Asia, Hong Kong: Asia Pacific will lead the world in generating revenues from wireless data services, forecasts third generation mobile industry body The UMTS Forum. The Asian region as a whole is predicted to exceed 700 million mobile data subscribers in 2010, with approximately half of these subscribers (320 million) coming from China.
In total, the UMTS Forum expects that annual 3G revenues for operators in the region will reach US$ 118 billion by 2010, with "customised infotainment" - personalised access to news, sports results, gaming and other forms of information and entertainment - representing 36% of all Asian 3G revenues, ahead of simple voice (28%), mobile access to the Internet and corporate networks (14%) and MMS (13%). Other revenues will come from location-based services and "rich voice" services such as videoconferencing that overlay speech with video, graphics and other forms of data.
Presenting the UMTS Forum's forecasts for operator-retained wireless data revenues in the region at ITU Telecom Asia this week, Chairman Dr Bernd Eylert indicated that China and Japan would lead the way in generating 3G revenues for operators in the region. With enormous opportunities for mobile growth due to the country's 1 billion-plus population, Dr Eylert predicted that China will account for 14% of all 3G subscribers in the region, just ahead of Japan with 12% of the AsiaPac 3G subscriber base:
"With current mobile penetration rates in countries such as China and India far below those in many other Asian markets and the West, there is clearly an enormous opportunity for operators to offer 3G voice and other mobile data services, including areas where access to fixed-line services is poor or non-existent."
While 112 of the 114 third generation licenses granted to date worldwide are held by operators who plan to use W-CDMA technology, Asia will support a mix of 3G deployments using W-CDMA (UMTS) as well as CDMA. W-CDMA offers a natural migration path to 3G for operators of GSM networks, representing a global customer base of nearly 800 million mobile users. China, for example, currently has some 200 million GSM customers - a quarter of the world's entire GSM user base. A number of Asian operators are already offering their customers mobile data services via a mix of 2, 2.5 and 3G technologies, and many more 3G deployments are anticipated in the region during 2003 and 2004.
"With operators currently deploying GPRS and 1X networks to meet near-term demand for mobile data services, widescale adoption of 3G across the region will allow Asian customers to enjoy even more exciting new services, with the valuable added benefits of additional speed and capacity", added Dr Eylert.