5G sets to accelerate but usage gap remains wide, report shows

It will require a concerted effort by a broad range of stakeholders, working together with mobile operators and other ecosystem players to address the usage gap


MOBILE broadband networks currently cover around 96% of the population in the Asia Pacific region, which is a testament to operators’ investment in mobile networks, especially the fifth 5G infrastructure.

However, it was found that just 44% of the population (1.23 billion users) are using mobile Internet services, according to a recent report by the Global System for Mobile Telecommunications Association (GSMA).

The report attributed the reasons for this discrepancy to the lack of digital skills, affordability and online safety concerns.

GSMA’s latest Mobile Economy Asia Pacific 2022 report delivers a detailed picture of the region’s adoption of mobile Internet.  

GSMA head of Asia Pacific Julian Gorman opined that addressing the usage gap and extending the benefits of the Internet to more people in the society is critical.

“However, it will require a concerted effort by a broad range of stakeholders, working together with mobile operators and other ecosystem players such as device manufacturers and digital content creators, to drive adoption and overcome the barriers we see today,” she said in the report.

Meanwhile, the report highlighted that mobile technologies and services continue to make a significant contribution to Asia Pacific’s economy, generating 5% of GDP in the region in 2021, which equates to around US$770 billion (RM3.41 trillion) of economic value.  

This ecosystem supported approximately 8.8 million jobs in 2021 and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with around US$80 billion raised through taxation.

According to the report, by 2025, there will be more than 400 million 5G connections, equivalent to just over 14% of total mobile connections.  

Progress is more advanced in countries like Australia, Japan and South Korea and Singapore where 5G is expected to account for 55% of the country’s connections by 2025.

“5G adoption is set to accelerate across the Asia Pacific region as the technology’s footprint expands.

“Today, it is commercially available in 14 markets, with others, including India and Vietnam, going live in the coming months,” it said.

Additionally, the report also explored the advent of the metaverse and highlights various 5G use cases and other related activities in the region.

Notably, it said government bodies in the region have started outlining plans to harness the potential of the platform to increase the efficiency and quality of public services.  

South Korea has plans to spend US$186.7 million to create its metaverse ecosystem, and Thailand’s Tourism Authority leveraged the technology to boost tourism in the country.

The report also mentioned that policymakers and regulators can fuel growth and innovation by establishing a flexible forward-looking regulatory regime to support mobile network deployment and operations.

It provided insights on focus areas where regulatory reforms would yield maximum rewards for the Asia Pacific region.

GSMA is a global organisation unifying the mobile ecosystem to discover, develop and deliver innovation foundational to positive business environments and societal change.

Separately, the Asia Pacific’s adoption of 5G will be centre stage at the GSMA’s Mobile 360 Asia Pacific conference on Aug 2 and 3, 2022, at the JW Marriott South Beach Hotel in Singapore.

The two-day agenda will include thought-provoking keynotes and discussions on how a digital nation strategy is essential in the post-pandemic global economy.


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