The ratio of 3G/4G subscribers to total mobile phone users in Southeast Asia remains relatively low despite the fact that most countries in the region have already set up their 3G networks, while some cities in Singapore and Malaysia have begun offering 4G services, according to Digitimes Research.
In Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, where the population totals 140 million, the penetration rate of 3G/4G handsets tops over 50%. But the penetration rate dips to below 20% in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam where the combined population of the three countries totals 400 million.
While 2G/3G models still dominate the entire Southeast Asia market, the growing number of 3G subscribers indicates that there will be a vast replacement demand for transitioning from feature phones to smartphones, said Digitimes Research.
Singapore began to implement 4G services in 2012 and now enjoys a high penetration rate of 3G/4G phones in the region, with smartphones priced at over US$500 accounting for the majority of models available in the market. Although Thailand just began to offer commercial 3G services in May 2013, the 3G penetration rate in the country is currently the second-highest in the region. Shipments of smartphones in Thailand are expected to grow 30% in 2014 despite the impact of the recent political upheaval.
Malaysia developed its 3G networks quite early, with some cities beginning to offer 4G services in 2013. Entry-level and mid-range smartphones priced at US$100-500 are the main models available currently, said Digitimes Research.
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