Asian Mobile Data and the Wireless Broadband Market
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Mobile data services in AsiaWith some 2.1 billion Asians using mobile phones going into 2010, the region's mobile markets offer huge potential for mobile data services.The growth of wireless Internet ...
Mobile data services in AsiaWith some 2.1 billion Asians using mobile phones going into 2010, the region's mobile markets offer huge potential for mobile data services.The growth of wireless Internet in Asia is being driven by competition in the market place and by the advent of 3G and 3.5G services. Market competition has been driving handset prices and airtime tariffs downward, thus opening up mobile services to wider adoption. The rate of adoption of wireless Internet has started to rise with the overall increase in mobile penetration together with networks being progressively upgraded to next generation platforms. While 3G licensing and the ongoing launch of 3G services in Asia has certainly been promoting the growth of wireless data services, 3G has also been providing opportunities for both wireless access and content providers in domestic markets. In South Asia, particularly, more people own a mobile phone than a PC, giving the delivery of mobile data services huge potential there.Mobile data is not a new phenomenon in Asia. Regional public networks based on Mobitex technology were established in Singapore, Indonesia and South Korea. Another form of mobile data, the DataTAC network, was made available in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, with network trials in South Korea, Japan and China. The DataTAC networks established in Asia were more extensive than the corresponding networks in either Europe or the US.An example of widespread adoption of a particular mobile data service has been the SMS capability of GSM and other digital cellular technologies. SMS, which allows the sending and receiving of basic text messages, became very popular throughout Asia, with remarkable growth being experienced in the Philippines and Malaysia, as well as in China.The business plans of the majority of mobile operators have been built on the assumption that the key to further revenue growth lies in the ability to offer more Value-Added Services (VAS) and, in particular, access to the Internet. A number of technologies are competing for the region's mobile Internet market. In Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and a number of other countries, in an effort to chase this market, offerings based on the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) standard were tried. Apart from South Korea, however, WAP failed to claim any significant share of the market.In Japan, by contrast, NTT DoCoMo launched its i-Mode service and its two rivals ' SoftBank and KDDI - launched their own versions of i-Mode with dramatic success, with over 80% of mobile subscribers in Japan logging on from a mobile using one of these platforms. In fact, mobile subscribers (93 million) accessing the Internet almost equal the fixed line users (94 million). Another system that has supported mobile data, the GPRS, grew out of GSM. Labelled as a 2.5G technology, it has been adopted in a significant number of Asian markets.The widespread adoption of HSDPA, a new generation (3.5G) mobile telephone protocol, is also noted throughout Asia. It is an evolution of the Wideband WCDMA 3G standard, designed to increase the available data rate by a factor of 5 or more. In effect, it extends the capabilities of WCDMA in the same way that EV-DO extended CDMA 2000, allowing higher data capacity (up to 14.4Mb/s). SK Telecom launched a commercial HSDPA network in 25 major cities in South Korea in 2006, offering customers what it claimed was the world's first commercial HSDPA-enabled mobile handset. This was followed by SmarTone-Vodafone launching a system in Hong Kong in 2006, providing a data speed of 1.8Mb/s. Others have quickly followed.KTF began rolling out an upgraded HSUPA network in 2007, for faster data transmission to attract more users of 3G mobile services. HSUPA supports upload data rates of up to 5.76Mb/s, which is 15 times faster than HSDPA, which itself is an advancement of 3G wireless technology. KTF launched high-speed uplink packet access, or HSUPA, in five major cities, incl
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