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Sunday, 21 November 2010 14:11

GSMA demands digital dividend for mobiles, throughout Asia Pacific


The GSMA has released research that claims to show huge economic gains if all nations in Asian Pacific allocate the 700MHz 'digital dividend' spectrum to mobile services.

The report, released by the GSMA and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), says that if governments allocate the 700MHz band for mobile broadband deployment, they will bring much greater economic and social benefits to the region than if the spectrum were allocated for services such as broadcasting.

The claimed benefits include a $US729 billion increase in GDP for Asia Pacific countries by 2020, more than two million new jobs across the region, and a $US131 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, GSMA's chief government and regulatory affairs officer. "By allocating the 700MHz 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 700MHz 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.

"Not only will governments lose out on the considerable economic opportunity, but failure to harmonise spectrum in the 700MHz 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."

Vaishali Rastogi, partner and managing director at The Boston Consulting Group, added: "The evidence from our research in Asia Pacific overwhelmingly suggests that the socio-economic benefits of allocating the 700MHz band to mobile will far outweigh alternatives such as broadcasting."


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GSMA says that harmonisation of the 700MHz band will ensure that Asia Pacific countries use the same frequency to deploy long-term evolution (LTE). "Deploying LTE in this band will drive large economies of scale and reduce capital and equipment costs for providers, accelerating the rollout of networks and lowering costs for consumers," GSMA said.

"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 700MHz band will also improve indoor availability of mobile broadband in urban areas."

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

- All Asia Pacific countries should allocate the 700MHz band to mobile broadband deployment and services;

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

For the report, 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 700MHz band for LTE, including a 14 percent increase in Internet subscriptions in Korea, 21 percent in India, 22 percent in Indonesia and 23 percent in Malaysia - an increase of more than 25 million extra rural Internet users in these four countries alone.


The report claims that, in Korea, the economic opportunities created by improved access to mobile broadband would account for a $US75.5b increase in GDP and deliver increased tax revenues of $US7.2 billion between 2014 and 2020.

In notes that India's GDP is among the fastest growing in the world but says that allocating the 700MHz band for mobile broadband would generate a $US71 billion incremental increase in GDP by 2020, mostly from increased productivity across all sectors.

In Indonesia, "Allocating the 700MHz band to mobile broadband would make a significant difference to take-up in rural areas, generating 9.7 million more Internet subscriptions by 2020."

In Malaysia, the research estimates 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.

The full report and the individual research on Korea, India, Indonesia and Malaysia are available at www.gsmworld.com/bcgreport2010.


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