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Asia Pacific mobile operators are to invest over $400 billion on their networks between 2020 and 2025, of which US$331 billion will be spent on 5G deployments, according to the latest Asia Pacific edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Economy series.
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators and nearly 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem.
The report shows that the region is one of the fastest growing in the world and home to over half of the total global subscribers. It is also home to some of the most advanced 5G markets in the world, with nine markets having launched commercial mobile 5G services including Japan at the end of March. Twelve more have officially announced plans.
In 2019, mobile technologies and services in Asia Pacific generated US$1.6 trillion of economic value with countries increasingly benefiting from improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the increased take-up of mobile services. The mobile ecosystem also supported 18 million jobs and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with $180 billion raised through general taxation.
“Operators in the region are investing billions in continuing deployment of 5G networks that are enabling an exciting variety of new services for consumers. This is also helping transform industry and manufacturing, and driving economic growth - which is of critical importance at this time,” said Julian Gorman, head of APAC, GSMA. “As 5G becomes a reality, we call on governments and regulators to actively support a favourable business environment to encourage investment and allow operators to extend next-generation digital services to all Asia’s citizens and speed financial recovery.”
4G remains the dominant technology across the region in countries such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Pakistan, where the focus remains in areas such as identity, digital commerce and payments, and cross-ecosystem collaboration to help create the digital societies of the future.
The impact of Covid-19 on 5G growth will be greater in Asia Pacific since the region is home to some of the first 5G networks, compared to other areas where many markets have yet to launch 5G. As a result, GSMA forecasts show that the total number of 5G connections will be almost 20 percent lower in 2020 in Asia Pacific than previously expected.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of a robust digital economy to cushion the economic and industrial shock of control measures,” said Gorman. “Emerging economies need to do more to stimulate and evolve the digital ecosystem, including accelerated smartphone penetration and mobile broadband adoption to prepare the foundations for an inclusive 5G future.”
The outlook, nevertheless, is that the impact of Covid-19 on the mobile industry will be temporary; however, the impact on some individual markets and mobile operators may be material. Indicators show that 5G will experience a short-term dip rather than a long-term slump.
As the world recovers from this crisis, wider connectivity and better networks will become a priority for consumers, enterprises and governments.
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