Asia-Pacific tops in various telecom sectors: UN report

September 1st, 2008 - 3:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangkok, Sep 1 (DPA) The Asia-Pacific region is the world’s largest broadband market with 39 percent of the total, the largest mobile phone market with 1.4 billion subscribers and claims 42 percent of the world’s Internet users, a UN report revealed Monday.By mid-2008, China and India alone had over 600 and 280 million mobile phone subscribers respectively, representing nearly a quarter of the world’s total, said a report on telecommunications and information communication technology indicators by the International Telecommunication Union released in Bangkok.

The Asia-Pacific region, covering a vast and disparate area from West Asia to the Pacific Islands, notched up several “superlatives” in this year’s report.

The Philippines, for instance, emerged as the text-messaging champion of the world. Filipinos send 650 text messages per subscriber per month, according to the report.

The region claims almost half the world’s fixed telephone subscribers, with close to two billion, and leads in mobile phone subscriptions at 1.4 billion.

The average annual mobile growth over the last five years has been almost 30 percent in the region, with mobile penetration nearing 40 percent, the report said.

“In terms of broadband access, Asia-Pacific has made remarkable progress in the past few years, with subscriber numbers growing almost five-fold in five years: from 27 million at the beginning of 2003 to 133 million at the start of 2008,” said the report, which was released at the ITU Telecom Asia 2008 conference that kicked off Monday in Bangkok.

South Korea is world leader in terms of the percentage of households with fixed broadband access, while South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan are international leaders in terms of the proportion of households with fibre-optic connections, essential for supporting the next generation of ultra-high-speed internet applications.

But the connectivity is far from universal in Asia, with a growing divide between “the haves and have-nots,” the report noted.

“The regional broadband divide is striking, with poor economies having a close-to-zero broadband penetration, compared to that of rich economies where one in four persons is a broadband subscriber,” it said.

By the end of 2007, 97 percent of the region’s more than 120 million mobile broadband subscribers were in high-income economies.

“While the region’s high-income economies are pushing the frontier of broadband bandwidth to a point where applications have yet to catch up, many Asia-Pacific developing economies are bandwidth starved, inhibiting the development of their information societies,” the report concluded.

It said the use of broadband technologies can help poorer countries overcome many challenges and become a catalyst for development.

“Governments must recognise its importance and formulate concrete broadband policies and targets, while providing incentives for achieving them,” noted the report. “Broadband prices could be reduced by encouraging new operators to enter the markets.”

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