The GSMA has released a new report on the mobile economy of the Asia Pacific region, which predicts that mobile operators will invest more than $400 billion in their networks in the five-year period between 2020 and 2025. The majority of that money ($331 billion) is earmarked for the deployment of 5G infrastructure.
According to the report, mobile technologies generated $1.6 trillion in value in the APAC area in 2019. That figure represents 5.3 percent of the region’s GDP. The mobile industry itself supported roughly 18 million jobs and added $180 billion in taxes to public coffers.
“Across the region, there is a need for a ‘whole of government’ approach with clear digital strategies to transform economies,” said GSMA APAC Head Julian Gorman. “As 5G becomes a reality, we call on governments and regulators to encourage investment and allow operators to extend next-generation digital services to all Asia’s citizens and speed financial recovery.”
The GSMA noted that the Asia Pacific region accounts for more than half of the world’s mobile subscribers, with 2.8 billion subscribers as of the end of 2019. That number is expected to climb past 3 billion by 2025.
On the 5G front, the report highlights the fact that nine APAC markets already have commercial 5G networks. However, 4G still remains the standard for much of the area, and COVID-19 will slow the expansion of 5G in the short term, with the total number of 5G connections in 2020 likely to be 20 percent lower than earlier projections. Having said that, the effect is likely to be temporary. Mobile and remote networking technology was vital to the coronavirus response, making strong infrastructure a higher priority for businesses and governments alike.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of a robust digital economy to cushion the economic and industrial shock of control measures,” explained Gorman. “Digitization is moving up the agenda for businesses and governments alike, with many now accelerating their timelines.”
The GSMA recently teamed up with the O-RAN Alliance to encourage 5G adoption and to promote the development of new 5G technologies. The organization has since released new guidelines for mobile operators that are hoping to launch 5G Stand Alone networks.