GSMA report shows 5G coverage is set to accelerate across Asia Pacific – but the usage gap remains significant

The GSMA has published its latest Mobile Economy Asia Pacific 2022 report, which delivers a detailed picture of the region’s adoption of mobile internet. At present, mobile broadband networks cover around 96% of the population, a testament to operators’ investment in 3G, 4G and, increasingly, 5G infrastructure. However, just 44% of the population (1.23 billion users) are using mobile internet services. 

The reasons for this discrepancy include lack of digital skills, affordability and online safety concerns. This year’s report outlines how countries are addressing this usage gap. 

“Addressing the usage gap and extending the benefits of the internet to more people in society is critical,” said GSMA’s Head of Asia Pacific, Julian Gorman. “However, it will require a concerted effort by a broad range of stakeholders, working together with mobile operators and other ecosystem players such as device manufacturers and digital content creators, to drive adoption and overcome the barriers we see today.”

Mobile delivers economic and societal benefits

Mobile technologies and services continue to make a significant contribution to Asia Pacific’s economy, generating 5% of GDP in the region in 2021, which equates to around $770 billion of economic value. This ecosystem supported approximately 8.8 million jobs in 2021 and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with around $80 billion raised through taxation.

400 million 5G connections by 2025 

5G adoption is set to accelerate across the Asia Pacific region as the technology’s footprint expands. Today, it is commercially available in 14 markets, with others, including India and Vietnam, going live in the coming months. 

According to the report, by 2025, there will be more than 400 million 5G connections, equivalent to just over 14% of total mobile connections. Progress is more advanced in   countries like Australia, Japan and South Korea and in Singapore 5G is expected to account for 55% of the country’s connections by 2025. 

Metaverse momentum in Asia Pacific

The report also explores the advent of the metaverse and highlights various 5G use cases and other related activities in the region. 

Notably, government bodies in the region have started outlining plans to harness the potential of the platform to increase the efficiency and quality of public services. South Korea has plans to spend $186.7 million to create its metaverse ecosystem, and Thailand’s Tourism Authority leveraged the technology to boost tourism in the country.  

Policies for digital innovation

Policymakers and regulators can fuel growth and innovation by establishing a flexible forward-looking regulatory regime to support mobile network deployment and operations. The report provides insights on focus areas where regulatory reforms would yield maximum rewards for the region.

Mobile 360 Asia Pacific in Singapore    

APAC’s adoption of 5G will be centre stage at the GSMA’s Mobile 360 Asia Pacific conference on 2-3 August 2022 at the JW Marriott South Beach Hotel in Singapore. The two-day agenda will include thought-provoking keynotes and discussions on how a digital nation strategy is essential in the post-pandemic global economy. 

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