By 2030, 5G will account for over 41 per cent of mobile connections in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region – up from a mere 4 per cent in 2022.
This was according to a report by global trade body GSMA, which predicted that 5G will add over US$133 billion to the APAC economy in 2030.
The number of mobile subscribers was forecasted to rise by 400 million between 2022 and 2030 to reach a whopping 2.11 billion, with mobile penetration set to rise to 70 per cent but still trail the global average of 73 per cent.
The growth is expected to be driven by a fall in prices of 5G devices, rapid network expansion across the region, as well as governmental efforts to push for use of mobile technology.
In ASEAN alone, several telecommunications operators have partnered with local governments and networking giants like Cisco, Nokia and Ericsson to expand networks and deploy 5G.
However, setbacks remain, found GSMA’s annual report; while mature markets like Australia, Singapore, Japan and South Korea lead global 5G mobile innovation, barriers continue to impact mobile access and usage in a number of other APAC countries.
Despite significant improvements, almost half of the population in the region (47 per cent) still lack access to mobile internet, with the region lagging behind other parts of the world including China and Eurasia.
Poor digital skills, particularly among older populations, device and service affordability, and online safety concerns are some of the reasons holding back uptake.
“As the mobile market spanning the world’s largest geographical area, APAC’s connectivity ecosystem is highly nuanced and consists of both pioneering mobile innovators and emerging markets,” said Julian Gorman, head of APAC at the GSMA.
“The region has some of the fastest growing 5G markets in the world today, notably India, which is set to add tens of millions of 5G connections in 2023. However, across APAC as a whole we’re also seeing some of the world’s largest disparities in mobile internet usage.
“If we are to fully realise the digitally transformation mobile connectivity can bring, we need to establish a flexible, forward-looking regulatory and policy regime to support mobile network deployment and operations. This includes greater efforts to close the digital divide, particularly for women and vulnerable populations.”
The Mobile Economy APAC 2023 Report was published during an event hosted by the GSMA and Singtel in Singapore, highlighting the key trends and forecasts for the region.
“Our experience in Singapore has taught us that early adoption of emerging technologies has been critical in enabling the economic development of our nation,” said Yuen Kuan Moon, Singtel’s group CEO.
“This is why Singtel rolled out standalone 5G nationwide coverage three years ahead of regulatory targets, turning Singapore into a testbed for the world to explore new solutions and applications.
“It is therefore imperative that the ecosystem comprising telcos and hyperscalers to individual developers collaborate to enable new digital experiences for both enterprises and consumers across Singapore and the region, as this will ultimately benefit our communities.