Mobile boom expected in SAARC region

ImageProxySAARC population is expected to raise from 1.7 billion in 2014 to 1.9 billion in 2018, with mobile penetration reaching to 208% of population in 2018.

The telecom access line in SAARC region (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Maldives, Nepal and Srilanka) will grow from 1.3 billion lines in 2014 to 1.6 billion active lines in 2018, according to forecasts by Dataxis. Dataxis estimates that the total telecommunication revenues will grow from USD 45 billion in 2014 to USD 59 billion in 2018.

The mobile subscribers will constitute 98% of the total number of telecommunication access lines, as predicted for 2018. Hence, mobile segment with growing 3G, 4G and mobile data will spur growth momentum in the SAARC telecommunications market. India and Pakistan will be the two leading markets in terms of mobile subscriber growth in 2018; both these markets together will contribute to 1.2 billion mobile subscribers by 2018. The rest of the SAARC regions will reach a total of 304 million mobile subscribers during the same period.

3G subscribers will gain traction in these markets and will represent 24% of mobile subscribers in 2018 from a mere 10% in 2014. Myanmar after opening up the market to foreign players, has witnessed a service leap-frog to 3G; skipping traditional 2G network. Two international players Ooredoo and Telenor launched services on 3G-only network, while the regional player is still upgrading services to 3G network.

The uptake of 4G services will begin to increase from 2016 onwards, with many operators especially in India planning to launch 4G in 2016-17. 4G subscribers will grow to over 100 million in 2018 from a mere 0.4 million in 2014.

Fixed line subscribers will decline further, as seen globally with the exception of Nepal market. Fixed line subscribers will reduce from 42 million in 2014 to 34 million in 2018.

Broadband subscribers were 30 million in 2014 and Dataxis estimates that the broadband sector will exceed the 40 million accesses mark in 2018, a figure which represents a 33% increase when compared to 2014. 8% of households will be broadband enabled in 2018 from 6% in 2014.

The combined revenues of mobile services’*, fixed telephony and fixed broadband services, in SAARC will remain above USD 59 billion. (Courtesy Dataxis)

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