5G in South East Asia and Oceania: A closer look
5G shows strong growth in South East Asia and Oceania
- Although each country in the South East Asia and Oceania region is at a different stage of their 5G journey, 5G is growing strongly, with the regional number of 5G subscriptions expected to reach close to 30 million in 2022.
- 5G is forecast to have around 620 million 5G subscriptions in South East Asia and Oceana by the end of 2028.
- By the end of 2028, mobile traffic per smartphone is expected to reach around 54 GB per month in South East Asia and Oceania.
The South East Asia region
The South East Asia region – synonymous with the 10-country regional economic bloc, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – is one of the most vibrant economic regions. It has witnessed an accelerated pace of digitalization since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have been the main drivers of digital adoption in the region. Growing 4G mobile broadband uptake has been a key factor in digital acceleration. Including Oceania, service providers are expected to add almost 90 million 4G subscriptions in 2022, with this strong growth to continue in 2023.
Rising consumer adoption of digital technologies and services is also driving technology-led industry transformation, and not just for large enterprises; small and medium enterprises have also been adopting digital technologies to align themselves with the shift in consumer behavior. A key factor in this accelerated digital adoption has been the digitalization action plans and frameworks launched by governments in the region. ASEAN has also taken multiple initiatives1 to facilitate digitalization in its member countries. It has identified accelerating inclusive digital transformation as one of five broad strategies to boost the economy and improve society in the post-COVID-19 world. Recently, ASEAN articulated its strategy on how it intends to transform the region’s economy and society through the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. The strategy emphasizes the role of 5G as the key enabler of the digital infrastructure needed for Industry 4.0.2
The Oceania region
In Australia, COVID-19 accelerated the consumer shift toward digital technologies. Australians have embraced digital health, payments and ecommerce in a significant way over the past two years. The same is true of neighboring New Zealand, which has also witnessed accelerated consumer adoption of digital services in the past two years.
Enterprises in Australian sectors like health, education, mining and finance have been making significant investments in digital transformation. For instance, mining and metals companies have been investing in operational automation to improve productivity and safety. Australian mining companies that have also been pioneers in deploying private LTE networks in mines, are now keen to deploy private 5G networks. Similarly, post-COVID-19, Australian financial service companies have scaled up investments in online platforms and apps.
The Australian Government considers 5G to be a key enabler for digitalizing the economy, and a driver of productivity growth. A focus on early and timely availability of spectrum has been key to the fast rollout of 5G networks, positioning Australia as a global leader in the deployment of 5G.
5G in South East Asia and Oceania
The region represents diversity when it comes to 5G evolution. Seven countries in the region – Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – have commercially launched 5G. Service providers in Vietnam, the only prominent ASEAN nation yet to commercially launch 5G, have been conducting 5G commercial trials since 2019. While service providers in countries like Australia, Thailand and Singapore have achieved significant population coverage and network performance, those in the Philippines and Indonesia are at an early stage of 5G evolution.
5G is changing the connectivity landscape in Australia
With the launch of 5G enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and FWA, the connectivity landscape in Australia has changed in the past three years, with consumers seeking to upgrade to higher speeds to support their needs in areas such as entertainment and remote work. 5G now covers 80 percent of the Australian population.3 Australian service providers have been at the forefront of launching 5G FWA to serve both residential households and enterprises. Australia has also witnessed the launch of 5G-enabled enhanced wireless solutions for enterprises, providing business-grade fixed wireless connectivity with added service-level agreements and managed services to connect to dedicated enhanced infrastructure. Even though a large share of the population is yet to switch to 5G, as the first country to launch 5G in the southern hemisphere, Australia is still ahead of many other markets in 5G adoption, with an estimated 5G mobile subscriber penetration of 30 percent by the end of 2022.
Australian service providers have deployed some of the world’s most advanced 5G networks and achieved several world-first innovations. These innovations are focused on new product and solution development to maximize the use of available spectrum resources, helping service providers expand their 5G coverage and cost-effectively increase capacity and speed.
Examples of innovation include:
- use of carrier aggregation to stack 8 contiguous carriers of 100 MHz to deliver record peak download rates
- world record 5G standalone (SA) extended cell range (longest distance 5G data call) at 113 km
- the world’s first deployment of multiple radio access technologies (4G, 5G, Cat-M, and NB-IoT) on one radio using spectrum sharing
- the first NB-IoT and spectrum sharing between 5G and 4G on the 700 MHz spectrum layer
Australia is leading in the region from a 5G perspective, with 30 percent 5G subscriber penetration in 2022.
Indonesia: An early stage of development
5G has been available in key Indonesian cities since 2021. The leading Indonesian service providers launched commercial 5G services using their existing spectrum holdings such as 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz and 2,300 MHz. However, the 5G network rollout has been slow due to a lack of adequate mid-band spectrum. New 5G spectrum bands (700 MHz, 2.6 GHz, 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz) will likely be made available to service providers from 2023.
Malaysia: Accelerating nationwide 5G
Malaysia is rolling out 5G via a single wholesale network with the aim to fast-track 5G deployment and accelerate the benefits of 5G for the country. Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) is the special-purpose vehicle tasked with rolling out the nationwide 5G network, and aims to cover 40 percent of Malaysia’s population with 5G by the end of 2022 and 80 percent by 2024. Five Malaysian service providers have commenced offering 5G services.
New Zealand: Focus on eMBB and FWA
New Zealand was one of the first countries in the region to commercially launch 5G in December 2019. Since then, all three service providers in New Zealand have launched 5G. These service providers have also launched 5G FWA targeting both residential and business users. New Zealand service providers are targeting 90 percent population coverage by 2023.
The Philippines: Making inroads with FWA
The Philippines was the first country in the region to launch 5G FWA in 2019. Mobile 5G was commercially launched in 2020. The country’s 2 leading service providers have launched 5G in the 3.5 GHz band. A third service provider has launched a 5G FWA home broadband service.
Singapore: Nationwide 5G SA network
Singapore recently covered 95 percent4 of the country with 5G SA. All three service providers in Singapore have launched 5G SA networks. Singapore service providers are focusing on developing innovative services for enterprises with proactive support from the government and the regulator.
Singapore has reached 95 percent 5G SA population coverage.
Thailand: Rapid network roll-out
Thailand was one of the first countries in South East Asia to launch 5G. Thai service providers have been quick to roll out 5G coverage across the country and 5G now covers more than 80 percent of the Thai population.5 Around 7.3 million subscribers of the 2 leading service providers were using 5G at the end of Q2, 2022. Both service providers have attributed recent revenue growth and subscriber net additions to 5G.
Vietnam: Commercial trials ongoing
5G services have not yet been officially launched in Vietnam, although most service providers have carried out commercial trials across several bands. Three service providers have tested 5G services in main provinces and cities across the country. New 5G spectrum bands are expected to be available to service providers in 2023 and 2024.
Figure 5: South East Asia and Oceania region mobile subscriptions by technology
The number of 5G subscriptions in the region is projected to reach almost 30 million in 2022.
5G subscriptions in South East Asia and Oceania are expected to reach almost 30 million by the end of 2022. As service providers speed up 5G network coverage deployment over the next few years, 5G mobile subscriptions are expected to grow at a CAGR of 67 percent over the forecast period. The region is forecast to have around 620 million 5G subscriptions by the end of 2028, overtaking 4G. The expansion of 5G coverage and the launch of new offerings and use cases are expected to drive incremental revenue growth for service providers in the region.
Mobile service providers in South East Asia and Oceania have the potential to generate around USD 40 billion in additional revenue from offering 5G services to enterprises by 2030.6 Much of this growth is expected to come from the adoption of 5G in industries like manufacturing, energy and utilities, financial services, healthcare, and media and entertainment. On the consumer front, 5G is already driving changes in usage behavior. 5G users in countries like Australia, Thailand and Singapore engage with immersive digital services such as cloud gaming, 360-degree videos, AR apps, and virtual events and concerts more frequently than 4G users.
5G adoption and growing consumer usage of new immersive services are key factors for growing mobile data usage in the region; mobile traffic per smartphone is expected to reach around 54 GB per month in 2028, a CAGR of almost 30 percent. Total mobile data traffic is expected to grow by a factor of 5 between 2022 and 2028.
Figure 6: South East Asia and Oceania region mobile data traffic (EB per month)
Total mobile data traffic in the region is forecast to grow by a factor of 5 by 2028.
- ASEAN, The Bandar Seri Begawan Roadmap.
- ASEAN, Consolidated Strategy on the Fourth Industrial Revolution for ASEAN (2021).
- AIS, Advanced Info Service PLC. 2Q22 Financial Results (8 August 2022).
- Ericsson, 5G for business: a 2030 market compass (October 2019).
Ericsson Mobility Visualizer allows you to explore the forecast data that underpins the Ericsson Mobility Report. Our interactive web application contains historical as well as forecast data on mobile subscriptions, fixed wireless access connections , traffic, data consumption and IoT connected devices. Users are able to generate custom graphs or download the data.