Global Telecom Sector
Global Developments in the Telecom Sector
In recent years, significant advances have been made in the telecom sector, one of the key driving forces of economic development. In this sector, influenced by numerous parameters such as GDP (Gross Domestic Product), education, qualified workforce, foreign trade volume, incentives, and national strategies, significant differences are observed in telecom infrastructure and the use of telecom services among various countries and regions.
At the end of 2009, the total number of fixed-line subscribers (1.2 billion) and mobile subscribers (4.63 billion) exceeded 5.8 billion, while the world population exceeded 6.85 billion, with the number of mobile subscribers almost 4 times that of fixed-line counterparts. As figures 1.1., 1.2. and 1.3. below indicate, the Asia Pacific Region, with 2.7 billion fixed-line and mobile subscribers as of the end of 2009, leads the world in terms of subscriber number (mobile and fixed-line) (1).
Figure 1.1 Total Number of Telephone Subscribers by Region (2009, million)
Figure 1.2 The Number of Mobile Telephone Subscribers by Region (2009, million)
Figure 1.3 The Number of Fixed-Line Telephone Subscribers by Region (2009, million)
Across all regions of the world, the mobile penetration rate is markedly higher than that of fixed-line. In Africa in particular has a mobile penetration 25 times greater than fixed-line. As can be seen from figures 1.4. and 1.5. below, the highest mobile penetration is in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region at 127.8%. The CIS is followed by Europe and America. The region of highest fixed-line penetration is Europe, which is followed by America and the CIS.
Even though the region of lowest mobile to fixed-line penetration ratio is Europe, mobile penetration in this region is also 2.85 times greater than fixed-line. Therefore, we may conclude that the region of the most balanced development in information and communication technologies is also Europe.
Figure 1.4 Mobile Phone Penetration by Region (2009, %)
Figure 1.5 Fixed-Line Penetration by Region (2009, %)
According to ITU (International Telecommunication Union) data, the number of mobile phone subscribers in the world is around 4.62 billion as at the end of 2009. The above mentioned figure corresponds to approximately 68% of the world’s population. In Africa, where fixed-line telecom infrastructure is limited, individuals’ access to the telecommunications infrastructure has been improved by the advances made in mobile services. While there were only 12 million fixed-line telephone subscribers in Africa at the end of year 2009, the number of mobile subscribers had risen to 295 million.
Another key point to consider concerning mobile phone penetration is that a mobile phone subscriber in a developed country may have more than one mobile phone number, while a mobile phone number in underdeveloped countries is often used by more than one subscriber/ user.
Figure 1.6 The Change in penetration for fixed-line telephones and mobile phones, internet users and mobile and fixed-line broadband subscribers thoughout the world (1998-2009)
When analyzing figure 1.6 above, we are struck by the fact that mobile phone penetration has been accelerating considerably, with internet penetration also registering a rapid rise. In parallel to mobile phone penetration, it is also observed that interest in mobile broadband services has also swiftly risen.
The mobile penetration rate of 41.9% in 2006 had climbed to around 68.2% by the end of 2009, with internet user penetration, at 17.4% in 2006, having also risen to 26.8% thanks to the global developments of the telecom sector. Broadband internet subscriber penetration is at around 7%. On the other hand, fixed-line telephone penetration, which was at 19.3% in 2006, had declined to 17.8% on a slight decrease by year-end 2009. The fact that the penetration rate for all services has shown an increase when compared by year, while fixed-line telephone penetration has decreased merits attention. The decrease in fixed-line telephone penetration signals that saturation has been reached. In contrast, the upward trend in mobile subscribers and internet users continues. The robust rise in mobile penetration figure suggests that the mobile sector will maintain its attraction in the mid- to-long-term, especially in developing countries, playing a crucial role in closing the digital gap. Additionally, the increase in mobile penetration rate means that the segment exceeds fixed line penetration.
As seen from Figure 1.7., the majority of internet users are in the Asia Pacific region, not least given its large population. On the other hand, in terms of internet user penetration, as illustrated in figure 1.8., the leader is Europe, followed by America and the CIS.
Figure 1.7 The Number of Internet Users by Region (2009, million)
Figure 1.8 Penetration Rane for ınternet Users by Region (2009,%)
Figure 1.9 The Number of Broadband Subscribers by Region (2009, million)
Europe is the leader in both fixed-line telephone and mobile phone penetration, as illustrated in figures 1.10. and 1.11. And when the rates of households having internet access, as illustrated in figure 1.12. is also taken into account, the importance of access to mobile telecom services, especially in Africa, can be grasped more clearly.
Figure 1.10 The Fixed-Line Broadband Penetration Rate by Region (2009, %)
Figure 1.11 The Mobile Broadband Penetration by Region (2009, %)
In conclusion, we observe that a transition and transformation process has been in progress across all fields of the telecommunication world. Indeed, this process that we have observed over recent years is, if anything set to gain acceleration going forward.
Important Note: Compiled from Telecom Authority’s market reports.