Asia’s mobile operators are set to invest $370 billion building-out new 5G networks between 2018 and 2025, according to the latest Asia Pacific edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Economy series, published at MWC19 Shanghai today. The world’s first nationwide 5G networks went live in South Korea earlier this year, and it is anticipated that 24 Asia Pacific markets will have launched 5G by 2025. It is forecast that 5G will contribute almost $900 billion to the region’s economy over the next 15 years.
China is currently testing 5G across all major cities and provinces, including Shanghai, ahead of commercial launches next year. It is forecast that 28 per cent of China’s mobile connections will be running on 5G networks by 2025, accounting for about a third of all 5G connections globally by this point.
“Although 4G still has plenty of headroom for growth across Asia, operators in the region are now investing billions in building-out advanced 5G networks that are facilitating an array of new services for consumers, transforming industry and manufacturing, and driving economic growth,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA. “As 5G becomes a reality, we call on governments and regulators in the region to actively shape a favourable business environment that encourages investment in advanced networks and allows operators to extend next-generation digital services to all Asia’s citizens.”
The report reveals that:
- Mobile operators are forecast to invest $574 billion (capex) on new networks between 2018 and 2025, almost two-thirds of which ($370 billion) will be spent on new 5G networks. China alone is forecast to invest $184 billion on 5G by 2025.
- 4G became the most dominant mobile technology in Asia in 2018 (52 per cent of connections1), and will grow to account for more than two-thirds of regional connections by 2025. Around 18 per cent of connections will be running on 5G networks by this point.
- More than four in five mobile connections in Asia will be smartphones by 2025, up from 61 per cent in 2018.
- There were 2.8 billion unique mobile subscribers2 in Asia at the end of 2018, equivalent to 67 per cent of the region’s population. The number of subscribers is forecast to increase to 3.1 billion by 2025 (72 per cent of the population), though the growth rate is slowing as many key markets approach saturation.
- Almost all new subscribers to be added in the region between 2018 to 2025 will come from six countries: India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines.
- Last year, mobile technologies and services in Asia Pacific generated $1.6 trillion of economic value, equivalent to 5.3% of regional GDP3. This contribution is forecast to surpass $1.9 trillion by 2023.
- Asia Pacific’s mobile ecosystem directly and indirectly employs more than 18 million people, and last year contributed $165 billion in public sector funding via general taxation (excluding regulatory and spectrum fees).
About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators with over 350 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai, Mobile World Congress Americas and the Mobile 360 Series of conferences.