One Asia?

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

In this telecom race for numbers and revenues we seem to have missed out a

few interesting facts. And these facts tell us where India stands in the world

order, and where it is headed in the next few years. And besides this, we also

seem to have been missing out on action in some of the neighboring countries in

South Asia.


What we know is that mobile operators from India and other South Asian

countries are now making their presence felt in the whole world. What we did

know perhaps was that out of the twenty biggest telecom companies in the world,

eight are from the Asia Pacific region. To be more specific, China Mobile is the

biggest operator in the world with 36.8 crore subscribers, followed by another

Chinese operator, Unicom, with 16.2 crore subscribers.

Globally, there are now twenty three mobile operators that have more than 3

crore subscribers, and nine of these are now in the Asia Pacific region,

including four from India. Of the nine, four now have over 5 crore subscribers,

including Bharti from India, and DoCoMo from Japan. These nine operators have a

total of 83 crore customers, which accounts for about 25% of the world market.

The interesting news is that the biggest challenge for the Top 20 of global

telecom is coming from Indian mobile operators. For instance, Bharti's Airtel

has jumped to the #6 in the world, and could soon move to the fifth place,

overtaking MTS of Russia.


Ibrahim Ahamad

Airtel is now #3 in the Asia Pacific after overtaking DoCoMo of Japan.

Similarly, Vodafone India could soon overtake Telkomsel from Indonesia to be at

the number four in the region. In fact, at the same growth rates Reliance India

could grab the sixth position. BSNL, which is at #8, obviously needs to pull up

its socks to perform as well at the regional level. Both Tata Teleservices and

IDEA, which are currently at #14 and #15, could soon overtake SK Telecom, the

largest operator in South Korea, which is currently at the #13. And Idea

Cellular beat Globe from the Philippines for the #16 position.

Growth is happening in the neighboring Pakistan too, as its market leader

Pakistan Mobile has now become the twenty-second largest mobile operator in the

world, and has over 3 crore subscribers. And Grameen of Bangladesh went up from

its twentieth rank to #19, beating Pakistan's Ufone.

The happening markets are, therefore, in Asia Pacific and South Asia. There

are so many commonalities among the countries and its people-in terms of

economic status, consumer behavior, language, and so on. It will not be

completely impractical to think of identifying and leveraging on each other's

strengths and experiences. There is a potential to build synergies and therefore

ensure faster and more cost effective growth.

At Voice&Data we have been attempting to at least get the operators of the

SAARC region on one platform. Just as concepts like number portability and

single tariff are being implemented at country levels, why can't the telecom

leaders work this out for regional levels, beyond the boundaries of their own