What Must be Done Next to Stimulate Faster Internet Adoption Across South Asia?

Spectrum Futures has posted a new white paper: Increasing Internet Access Availability Across South Asia: What to Do Next

In many cases, the answers start with an understanding of where and how Internet access will be used. 

By 2020, for example, 54 percent of South Asia mobile customers will be using smartphones, according to GSMA estimates.  Those choices by consumers necessarily drive demand for more bandwidth.

Between 2015 and 2021, data consumption per smartphone will grow nine times in Western Europe, five times in Central and Eastern Europe, nearly six times in the Middle East and Africa, nearly seven times in Asia Pacific, nearly six times in North American and five times in South America.

In much of Asia, as in some other regions, the smartphone is the gateway to use of the Internet. In India, for example, about 57 percent of the time, the smartphone is the access device of choice, according to the Google Consumer Barometer.

In the Philippines, about 39 percent of the time, the smartphone is the preferred or more-used access device.

Smartphone adoption therefore will be a key driver of bandwidth demand, since mobile Internet consumption on smartphones is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 50 percent.

It also goes without saying that attractive applications and services are the reasons people want to use smartphones and the Internet, which is why many believe programs such as "Free Basics" make sense. 

Many who do not yet use the Internet across South Asia say they do not have a need, or do not know why they would want to use the Internet. So allowing people to sample the Internet is a proven way to boost demand by allowing people to discover the value of Internet apps.

And though it will not be the only platform for Internet access, there can be no denying mobile's huge role. 

There will be 2.51 billion mobile phone users in the Asia-Pacific region in 2015, a figure equal to 62.5 percent of the population, rising to 69.4 percent by 2019, according to eMarketer.

Also, Asia will account for 39 percent of global data consumption by 2019, as a result, according to Cisco. And India will represent a huge part of the growth.

India is on track to surpass half a billion mobile subscribers by the end of the year, according to a new GSMA Intelligence study. By 2020, India will account for almost half of all the subscriber growth expected in the Asia Pacific region.

The Mobile Economy: India 2015 notes that 13 percent of the world’s mobile subscribers reside in India. At the  end of 2014, India’s mobile subscriber penetration rate was about 36 percent of the population, compared to a 50 percent global average.

But that is going to change, fast.

The subscriber penetration rate in India is forecast to reach 54 per cent by 2020 as many millions more are connected by mobile.

India had 453 million unique mobile subscribers at the end of 2014, but is forecast to surpass 500 million by the end of 2015 and add a further 250 million subscribers by 2020 to reach 734 million.  
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