New figures from GSMA Intelligence reveal that Asia accounts for 55% of the world's population that do not yet have access to the internet. This large percentage is due to the difficulties associated with providing online coverage to areas with poor socioeconomic and geographic characteristics.
In Asia in 2014, only 33% of the population (around 1.2 billion people) actively used mobile internet – well below the 2.9 billion people who had either 3G or 4G network coverage. This suggests that around 1.6 billion people are within range of 3G or 4G, but a lack of funding, understanding and awareness may be holding them back from adopting it. This also leaves 1.1 billion people with no form of network connection whatsoever.
It is hoped that increased investment from mobile operators will help improve 3G and 4G coverage to include 93% and 69% of the Asian population respectively by the year 2020.
In China, further GSMA Intelligence data highlighted a predicted growth in the number of 3G and 4G connections through to 2020. At the end of 2014 there were 100 million 4G connections in the country, but by 2020 this will reach 1 billion.
This could be down to Chinese manufacturers also producing more 4G enabled smartphones than their international competitors. Chinese smartphones with 4G technology occupied 70% of the market, compared to the global average of 40%. This will hopefully help to boost the coverage gap present in the region.
In other Asian markets, including India, Pakistan, Malaysia and Myanmar, network sharing is becoming more popular and is helping to drive further adoption of 3G.