Asia-Pacific added 104m mobile accounts in 2002

10 March 2003 -- The Asia-Pacific region added almost 104m mobile subscribers in the 12 months to December, according to the 4Q02 results of the Global Mobile Subscriber Database.

10 March 2003 -- The Asia-Pacific region added almost 104m mobile subscribers in the 12 months to December, according to the 4Q02 results of the Global Mobile Subscriber Database.

As of end-2002, the region had amassed 433.03m wireless users compared with 329.24m at end-2001, representing a 31.5% growth in subscribers year-on-year.

Since the end of September, 26.67m customers took out mobile subscriptions in Asia-Pacific, of which 16.22m were from China. Indonesia had the next highest number of new subscriptions of 2.14m in 4Q02 vs. 3Q02, followed by India (1.95m), Thailand (1.78m) and Japan (1.43m).

The number of subscribers in the region in 4Q02 was up by almost 1m on the 26m added in 3Q02. As expected, the top operators by net additions were the Chinese companies, with the China Mobile Group adding 8.8m subscribers, while the China Unicom Group added over 7.3m. Telkomsel in Indonesia and AIS in Thailand, each registering over 1m subscriber additions follow the Chinese players.

According to CSFB, the Indonesian wireless market is delivering enormous growth potential by becoming Asia Pacific's second-largest mobile country in terms of net additions, taking on 2.14m new subscribers in 4Q02 - an improvement from 4Q01 when it was ranked in fourth place with 1.03m subscriber additions.

In terms of penetration, Taiwan (106%) and Hong Kong (83%) topped the chart within Asia Pacific. Both are also ranked within the top-ten on a global basis. The bank notes that these statistics refer to SIM penetration rather than actual user penetration and are therefore overstated due to prepaid take-up and the trend for users to have multiple-SIM cards.

CSFB believes that South Korea's penetration rate of 67% is a better indicator of the penetration rate of developed Asian markets, due to the lack of prepaid services in this market.

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