Increasing Mobile Data Usage Fuels Growth in the Mobile and Wireless Market
Published on: 1st Jan 1970: 1:33am
The mobile and wireless industry in South Asia, Middle East, and North Africa is at different penetration and competition levels. South Asian countries (India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan) are characterized by low mobile penetration rate, and have presence of cluster of operators. Whereas most of the countries in MENA region have surpassed 100 percent penetrations mark even under controlled competition or duopoly environment. However, all these markets are under growth phase experiencing a downward pressure on ARPU. Therefore, telecom service providers are unleashing attractive packages to add value to mobile data services to stave off ARPU decline.
Analysis from Frost & Sullivan, finds that total market revenue for covered list of countries is over $55 billion in 2008 and estimates this to reach over $89 billion in 2015.
"Although the customers are benefiting from the declining call rates and innovative tariff plans, low calling rates are pressurizing the mobile operators, due to the decline in revenue margins," says Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst Lokeshwari Nautiyal. "This is likely to result in consolidation in some of the markets like India and Sri Lanka."
India has the highest subscription growth rate, followed by Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Low penetration levels in South Asian countries are indicative of the huge untapped market and will translate into high subscriber growth rate in these countries between 2009 and 2015. Most of increased base will be on prepaid services resulting in further rise of prepaid subscriber percentage in these countries.
"High uptake of services such as MMS, mobile web browsing, call conferencing, call forwarding, call waiting, mobile banking, and access to other data services are enhancing the outlook for mobile data services market," adds Industry Analyst Santosh Kumar Sinha. "The rollout of 3G services in some of countries is expected to further bolster market progression."
Israel, with 15 percent data revenue contribution, ranks first among the covered list of countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, in terms of data usage. This is attributed to the difficulties of growth through new customer acquisition and voice tariff competition. Therefore, operators are focusing on mobile data and extending their services to provide bundled services.
Barring Israel, all other countries in MENA region prefer prepaid subscription. New mobile operators are introducing services at low prices, especially in the prepaid segment, driving the growth of prepaid subscribers in these markets. Prepaid subscription is well accepted by all the income groups, especially the low-income group, due to the low initial sign-up amount and flexibility in usage.
Intense competition has prompted participants to decrease tariffs, in order to acquire or maintain their market share. To acquire subscribers, operators are launching new schemes and plans with low call rates. With the decline in tariff and handset prices, affordability of the customer is increasing, irrespective of the income of the customer, significantly boosting mobile subscription growth.
"Leveraging larger economies of scale is vital for operators to stay afloat despite shrinking profit margins," opines Nautiyal. "Telecom service providers in India are sharing towers and base station location sites, and this trend is expected to gain traction in few other countries also."