Calling Home

SINGAPORE, June 20, 2006 (AFP) – Future expansion in the mobile telephone business will come from developing economies whose less than affluent consumers cannot be overlooked while overall growth slows, experts said Tuesday. Income levels of consumers in the world’s poorer nations may not come anywhere near their wealthy counterparts but they offer far better growth prospects for the sector as a whole, telecommunications executives said at CommunicAsia2006, a major four-day exhibition and associated conferences which opened Tuesday.

“Growth in the mobile industry isn’t going to be coming from the guys in the crowd here wearing coats and ties,” said Andrew Buay, chief operating adviser of Globe Telecom, a telecommunications operator from the Philippines.

“If you just think of where the next billionth (subscriber is) … coming from, they are going to be coming from countries with GDP (gross domestic product) of less than 1,000 US dollars (per capita),” he said.

Industry research estimates there are 2.2 billion mobile subscribers globally, a figure expected to rise to three billion by the end of 2008.

Asian countries that fall into the high growth category include Pakistan, Indonesia, China, India and the Philip