According to ABI Research’s “Global Mobile Subscriber Database” and "Asia-Pacific Mobile Subscriber Market Data," global mobile subscriptions will reach over six billion by the end of this year, and the Asia-Pacific region will account for more than half of the worldwide figure in 2011. Asia-Pacific added nearly one billion connections from two years ago – growth that is fueled by rapid economic development in the region, where increased rollout of mobile network infrastructure, citizen prosperity, and affordability of mobile handsets have encouraged adoption.

Less than 18 percent of the three billion connections in Asia-Pacific are 3G and 4G enabled, but that is expected to change quickly. “Mobile broadband connections will experience rapid growth over the next two years, driven by 3G network rollouts in India and China and 4G deployments in Japan and South Korea,” said ABI Practice Director Dan Shey, in a statement.

China successfully surpassed 100 million 3G subscriptions in September 2011, just 10 percent of its total mobile population. “Subscription growth for the China-developed TD-SCDMA standard has been slow due to lack of compatible handsets, but 16 million new connections over the past two quarters suggest growth is accelerating,” said ABI Research Analyst Fei Feng Seet, in a statement.

3G adoption is expected to ramp up in India as well, where 3G networks went live only last year. India’s largest operator by subscribers, Bharti Airtel, launched early in 2011 and gained three million 3G customers in less than six months of operation. Low-cost smart feature phones are already entering these markets to drive 3G connections among consumers.

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