Global mobile network service provider subscriptions will reach over six billion by the end of this year. The Asia-Pacific region will account for more than half of the worldwide total in 2011, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.
Asia-Pacific added nearly one billion connections from two years ago. That growth is being fueled by rapid economic development in the region -- where increased rollout of mobile network infrastructure, citizen prosperity, and affordability of mobile handsets have increased adoption.
That said, less than 18 percent of the three billion connections in Asia-Pacific are 3G and 4G enabled, but that is expected to change quickly as more subscribers create new demand for data services.
"Mobile broadband connections will experience rapid growth over the next two years, driven by 3G network rollouts in India and China and 4G deployments in Japan and South Korea,” says Dan Shey, practice director at ABI Research.
China successfully surpassed 100 million 3G subscriptions in September 2011, and that's just 10 percent of its total mobile population. Clearly, the upside potential for mobile broadband adoption is huge.
Subscription growth for the China-developed TD-SCDMA standard has been slow due to lack of compatible handsets, but 16 million new connections over the past two quarters suggest growth is accelerating.
TD-SCDMA subscriptions are forecast to reach 100 million by the end of 2013.
3G adoption is expected to ramp up in India as well, where 3G networks went live only last year.
India's largest network operator by subscribers, Bharti Airtel, launched early in 2011 and gained three million 3G customers in less than six months of operation. Low-cost smart feature phones are already entering these markets to drive new 3G connection growth.