Smartphone Subscriptions in South East Asia and Oceania to Triple by 2020

Uptake in smartphone subscriptions and growing interest in video and other app services will drive a nine-fold increase in mobile traffic volumes to three Exabytes a month by 2020, according to Ericsson’s third South East Asia and Oceania Region Appendix to the Ericsson Mobility Report. The appendix illustrates regional contrasts in areas such as smartphone uptake, top app usage, access to LTE, and network performance.

Sam Saba, Head of Ericsson’s Region South East Asia and Oceania, commented on the reasons for this rapid uptake: “The increasing availability of affordable smartphones, internet access and mobility is enabling more consumers to access the benefits of the networked society. In fact, in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines smartphones are the primary way of getting online.”

When it comes to growth in mobile subscriptions Myanmar, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam are among the top countries globally for net additions in Q1 2015.

“Currently in South East Asia and Oceania 25 percent of handsets are smartphones. We predict that by 2020, smartphone subscriptions will grow three times to almost 800 million in the region; while LTE subscriptions will constitute almost 25 percent of regional mobile subscriptions and 70 percent will be 3G by then,” Saba said.  

As the internet is becoming an integral part of consumers’ daily activities and interactions via their smartphones, there is high interest in new connected services. Ericsson’s ConsumerLab findings show that 16 percent of regular internet users in the region use the “connected home” service, allowing them to connect their homes to smart devices or the internet, while another 36 percent are interested in such services. While around 12 percent are users, another 30 percent in the region are interested in “connected car” and “connected me” (wearables) services.


Measurements show that social networking, instant messaging and video streaming dominate smartphone usage in the region with varied app preference from market to market. Facebook, Google Maps, and YouTube are the top-three apps in Australia. In Singapore and Malaysia, WhatsApp, Facebook, and YouTube are the top three apps actively used by smartphone users.

For service providers, delivering a consistent user experience aligned with the most popular apps can help drive customer satisfaction. In order to do this, operators need to optimise and tune their networks to ensure users’ particular app coverage demands are catered for in different traffic situations and geographical areas.

Countries in the region with the best network performance are Australia and Singapore, due to their leadership in deploying LTE and LTE Advanced. This has meant that the gap in network performance with other countries has widened. Ericsson analysis shows that data-intensive applications, such as video streaming, could easily be delivered by mobile networks in Singapore and Australia. However the same services could be a challenge for operators to deliver in developing countries in the region.

“We expect developing countries’ networks will greatly improve in performance over the coming years,” Saba concluded.