Senior communications analyst at Ovum, a global telecom analyst, discusses the future of telecommunications in Southeast Asia
How do you see the market shaping up over the next ten years?
That is a long time in telecoms. There is the potential for the big operators to get bigger, with smaller operators coming under pressure from lack of scale. That does not necessarily mean that the smaller operators will disappear, but they will need to potentially rethink their business models. Consolidation, for instance, may take the form of closer network alliances, including more active infrastructure collaboration. Collaboration will be vital across several parts of the value chain for all operators, both big and small.
What will be the key areas of growth in the coming years?
Mobile broadband – both big-screen and small-screen – will continue to drive data revenue. Smartphone affordability and availability will drive small-screen take-up and revenue. Machine to machine (M2M) will also play a key role in driving revenue on the enterprise side. Operators should actively seek to tap more opportunities in the enterprise space, since this area is considerably less fickle than the consumer space. In Southeast Asia, mobile money opportunities could also help drive revenue. But overall, we encourage operators to continue to innovate on tariffs if they are truly serious about unlocking incremental revenue from consumers.
What kind of an impact will the ICT sector have on the more traditional forms of communication in Southeast Asia?
The ICT sector is both an opportunity and a threat for operators. ICT technologies such as cloud services are well served by OTT players. The challenge for operators will be to differentiate their services, and that is difficult to do. Big data is another ICT opportunity for mobile operators. One big data opportunity we particularly like involves operators using their customer data to optimise their networks and make them more efficient. We see this being of interest to operators in Southeast Asia.
What impact will the opening up of Myanmar have on its telecoms industry?
With a population of more than 60 million people and a mobile penetration rate of less than 10%, Myanmar offers a major growth opportunity for two new nationwide licensees. We encourage the government to conduct an open and transparent licensing process, with knowledge that greater mobile penetration will have GDP benefits. The government, on paper at least, is aggressively targeting 80% mobile penetration by 2015. In order to achieve that, it needs to open the market in a fair manner that encourages competition.