The Asia-Pacific region is set for explosive growth in the telecomms world, according to the latest research from industry watchers, Analysys.
The number of cellular subscribers in the area is expected to leap from 40 million to 110 million-plus by 2000. And 31 of the 108 satellites under contract in mid-1996 were in Asia Pacific, calculates Analysys, in its report 'Network Operators in the Asia-Pacific Region'.
The report highlights interest in the GSM international mobile comms standard, and the emerging Wireless in the Local Loop (WLL) technology, for both developed and developing markets. Because they are cheaper and faster to install than fixed lines, these technologies are playing an important role in the region, particularly in countries with large rural populations, reports Analysys. It believes there will be 28 million WLL telephony lines in Asia by 2000.
International interest in the region is also very high. Apart from the three OECD countries in the area - Australia, Japan and New Zealand - foreign investment has focused mainly on Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand. This list is set to expand, to include those countries that have traditionally opposed foreign equity stakes in their domestic operators, such as China.
Increasing liberalisation of public fixed line services, particularly in countries that have signed the World Trade Organisation agreement to open the global telecomms market, is creating new opportunities for foreign investment. However, the report warns that success depends on investors forging strong contacts and being willing to innovate and adapt to local business and management practices. One example is Cable & Wireless as it tries to forge closer relations with China to enable its subsidiary, Hong Kong Telecom, to compete in the country.
Mike Townshend, head of Analysys? south east Asia office and co-author of the report, said: ?Companies based in the region?s less developed markets, such as TRI, Hutchison, Shinawatra, Jasmine, and Bakrie, have been particularly successful in entering new markets. However, there is also a role for foreign partners from developed economies to provide the capital investment needed to improve telecomms infrastructure.?
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