GSMA Calls For APAC Harmonization

Research suggests how mobile broadband could add $729 billion to the GDP of Asia/Pacific nations by 2020

November 16, 2010

4 Min Read

HONG KONG -- The GSMA today unveiled new independent research that highlights the positive impact harmonised spectrum allocation for mobile could have on the Asia Pacific region. The report, released by the GSMA and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), states that if governments allocate the 700 MHz band for Mobile Broadband deployment, it would bring much greater economic and social benefits to Asia Pacific than if allocated for services such as broadcasting. These benefits include a $729 billion increase in GDP for Asia Pacific countries by 2020, more than two million newly-created jobs across the region, and a $131 billion increase in tax revenues.

“Asia Pacific is a leading mobile market capable of driving large economies of scale and now has the opportunity to play a pivotal role in setting the standards for spectrum harmonisation,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Government & Regulatory Affairs Officer, GSMA. “By allocating the 700 MHz band to mobile, Asia Pacific countries could enjoy significant socio-economic benefits and provide millions of people with low-cost mobile services essential for their needs, such as Internet connectivity, especially in rural areas, and much needed access to education, financial and health services. Non-harmonisation of the 700 MHz band will significantly reduce these benefits for the entire region, so it’s imperative that governments and regulators take a coordinated approach to spectrum allocation.”

“The unprecedented amount of spectrum freed up in the switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial television, known as the ‘digital dividend’, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Vaishali Rastogi, Partner and Managing Director at The Boston Consulting Group. “The evidence from our research in Asia Pacific overwhelmingly suggests that the socio-economic benefits of allocating the 700 MHZ band to mobile will far outweigh alternatives such as broadcasting.”

Harmonisation of the 700 MHz band will ensure that Asia Pacific countries use the same frequency to deploy Long-Term Evolution (LTE), the next-generation Mobile Broadband technology. Deploying LTE in this band will drive large economies of scale and reduce capital and equipment costs for providers, accelerating the roll out of networks and lowering costs for consumers. It will also provide significant social benefits, particularly in rural areas not served by fixed broadband, such as improved access to education, the availability of new financial and health services, the wider use of e-government tools and improved interactions between governments, businesses and consumers. LTE in the 700 MHz band will also improve indoor availability of Mobile Broadband in urban areas.

The report states, however, there are two conditions that are essential for fulfilling the unique opportunity Mobile Broadband could provide the Asia Pacific region. These are:

All Asia Pacific countries should allocate the 700 MHz band to Mobile Broadband deployment and services.

All Asia Pacific countries should implement the same technical specifications (the Asia Pacific Telecommunity’s (ATP) 2 x 45 MHz band plan for the 700 MHz band) to achieve harmonisation and ensure that every country and its consumers benefit from economies of scale and lower equipment and handset costs.

Given the size and diversity of Asia Pacific, four countries representing the range of social and economic development and current Internet adoption – Korea, India, Indonesia and Malaysia – were studied in detail and the data was used to build up a picture for the entire region.

The research found that there would be a large incremental adoption of Internet connectivity, particularly in rural areas, as a result of allocating the 700 MHz band for LTE, including a 14% increase in Internet subscriptions in Korea, 21% in India, 22% in Indonesia and 23% in Malaysia – an increase of more than 25 million extra rural Internet users in these four countries alone. These increases, when extrapolated across the region, would have a considerable economic impact. Highlights from each country include:

The economic opportunities created by improved access to Mobile Broadband would account for a $75.5bn increase in GDP and deliver increased tax revenues of $7.2 billion between 2014 and 2020.

India’s GDP is among the fastest growing in the world but allocating the 700 MHz band for Mobile Broadband would generate a $71 billion incremental increase in by 2020, mostly from increased productivity across all sectors.

Allocating the 700 MHz band to Mobile Broadband would make a significant difference to take up in rural areas, generating 9.7 million more Internet subscriptions by 2020.

It is estimated that increased Internet adoption resulting from widespread Mobile Broadband deployment would create more than 44,000 new jobs by 2020, with many in rural areas.

“Reaping the rewards that Mobile Broadband is proven to provide is heavily dependent on governments and their regulators harmonising spectrum for mobile and implementing supportive policy,” concluded Phillips. “Not only will governments lose out on the considerable economic opportunity, but failure to harmonise spectrum in the 700 MHz band will also have a huge impact on millions of people, such as higher prices, limited access to critical services and significantly reduced Internet connectivity – especially in rural areas where it’s needed most.”

GSM Association (GSMA)

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