China and the Pacific Rim states will make up half of mobile phone subscriptions in the future, according to estimates from Nokia.
There are two billion mobile phones subscribers worldwide today, and Nokia expects the number to rise to three billion by 2010. Fifty per cent of these subscriptions will be sold in China and the Pacific Rim, and Africa and the Middle East will account for another 20 per cent.
"New markets have an advantage in a way because they always get top of the line networks," said Petteri Terho, director of strategy and business development for new growth markets at Nokia.
"On launching, some countries have networks we only dream of having here in the West."
Terho explained that developing countries posed particular challenges to network providers.
Most contain a large market of basic users who just want voice services, but there is also a small but highly profitable minority who want the very best phones and data speeds.
The environment is also an issue. Handset power consumption is crucial if supplies are erratic and network operators have to rely on backup generators.
Air conditioning is also a major drain on power and to combat this Nokia has been developing 'shelterless' network centres that use air flow to cut the need for air conditioning.
By the time mobile numbers reach three billion Nokia estimates that pre-pay phones will account for two thirds of the market, compared to a third for post-pay. Only in the West will mobile contracts be the norm.
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