2015 Asia Mobile Operators and MVNOs

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Last updated: 29 Jan 2016 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 433

Analyst: Peter Evans

Publication Overview

The report has gathered together a selection of information about each of these many operators. The range of information presented in the text, and where appropriate in tables, includes:

  • brief history of the company;
  • corporate and business structure;
  • subscriber growth;
  • some information on financial performance;
  • market position.

It is noted that the information provided varies from market to market and operator to operator, depending very much on the availability of statistics and corporate reports. In some markets BuddeComm also provides an overall review of the market in which we find these operators; this overview includes such statistical information as market share and Average Revenue per User (ARPU) if available. Within the background information we have also reported on the mergers and acquisition that have been part of a transformational market.

The countries covered in this report include: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam.

Researcher:- Peter Evans
Current publication date:- January 2016 (12th Edition)

Executive Summary

As mobile growth eases, Asia’s top operators keep expanding

Across Asia a total of around 3.8 billion mobile subscribers were being served by a large number of mobile operators heading into 2016. The operators are continuing to drive the market, expanding it by between 5% and 10% annually at the moment. Whilst the overall growth rate in the region has moderated the sheer numbers are impressive. This market report presents a wide-ranging review, providing details on around almost 200 of the mobile operators to be found in Asia in 2015. 

The list of operators ranges from the giant China Mobile with more than 800 million subscribers right through to a number of much smaller operators with only a few thousand subscribers each. And of course there are the mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). BuddeComm’s overview of mobile operators in the region does not claim to present an exhaustive list of the licensed operators but it is truly indicative of the breadth and variety of operators to be found in the region. It also reflects the highly commercial and competitive nature of the mobile sector in this region. 

The focus of this report is on the operators within the individual national markets. Of course, in addition to these individual operators there are those companies such as SingTel, Vodafone, and Axiata (formerly Telekom Malaysia International) that have built a substantial presence around the region beyond their own domestic market through their shareholdings in operators in multiple other markets. While this aspect of the regional operations is not discussed in any detail, it is mentioned in passing in the relevant country reviews. 

Asia – total mobile subscribers – 2002 - 2015

Year

Subscribers (million)

Annual growth

2002

430

32%

2003

548

27%

2004

679

24%

2005

836

23%

2006

1,078

29%

2007

1,398

30%

2008

1,773

27%

2009

2,167

22%

2010

2,643

22%

2011

3,057

16%

2012

3,205

5%

2013

3,457

8%

2014

3,691

7%

2015 (e)

3,865

5%

(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)

In table below the top 15 operators in Asia are shown ranked by subscribers as of end-2014. The table also shows the available subscriber numbers for 2015. It is noted that of the region’s operators these 15 (as listed in the table) have a combined share of 70% of the total regional mobile subscriber base. In other words, less than 10% of the total number of operators in the regional market control 70% of the total subscriber base. This list of top operators has remained relatively stable over the last year or so, with few changes to the leading group. 

Table 2  - Asia - top 15 mobile operators by subscribers – 2014 - 2015

Rank1

Operator

Country

2014

Subscribers

(million)

2015

Subscribers

(million)

1

China Mobile

China

807

817 (Jun)

2

China Unicom

China

299

289 (Sep)

3

Bharti

India

221

231 (Jun)

4

China Telecom

China

186

191 (Jun)

5

Vodafone Essar

India

179

184 (Mar)

6

Idea Cellular

India

151

162 (Jun)

7

Telkomsel

Indonesia

141

n/a

8

Reliance Communications

India

106

111 (Jun)

9

BSNL

India

81

77 (Mar)

10

Aircel/Dishnet

India

79

81 (Mar)

11

Smart Comms (PLDT)

Philippines

70

70 (Mar)

12

Tata Teleservices

India

66

66 (Mar)

13

NTT DoCoMo

Japan

63

67 (Jul)

14

Indosat

Indonesia

63

69 (Sep)

15

Viettel

Vietnam

55

55 (Jun)

(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)

Note: 1ranked by number of subscribers at end-2014

While the overall regional growth rate has eased considerably in the last few years, there are still some countries (and therefore operators) with growth rates well in excess of the regional average. Then of course there are the various growth patterns within the overall subscriber numbers. In this respect, the phenomenal growth of mobile broadband must be mentioned. Operators across the region have been responding to the huge demand for mobile broadband access.

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