Page 8 of 13Mobile and Wireless
While fibre optic cable is still the dominant technology for back-haul within and between countries, the "last mile" of connectivity is increasingly wireless. The Republic of Korea launched the world's first Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) 2000 1x3G network in October 2000 and Japan launched the world's first Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (W-CDMA) 3G (2 Mbps) network in October 2001. It is important to note that CDMA2000 and W-CDMA are types of third generation (3G) cellular network that refer to mobile communications with roaming capability, broad bandwidth, or high-speed communication (upwards of 2 mbps) and represent a shift from voice-centric services to multimedia-centric ones. China, on the other hand, has developed its own 3G technology standard - Time Division-synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TDSCDMA) - to reduce its dependency on western standards.
Although W-CDMA is the fastest growing technology in the richer economies of the Asia Pacific region (e.g. Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea), in other parts of Asia, such as in South Asia, CDMA2000 is experiencing substantial growth. India made an interesting example by not grouping 3G services with the older second-generation (2G) services and by offering its available radio frequencies not only for 3G services, but also for WiMAX services. A typical 3G or WiMAX mobile network can deliver very high-speed connectivity that can enable the network to run a variety of applications such as video telephony, video conferencing, mobile TV, interactive gaming, streaming video, music downloads, and mobile TV on a hand-held device.
In some other countries, like Indonesia, the government has taken the initiative to introduce local WiMAX service after the 3G service is rolled out by private operators. The government there is introducing 2.3 GHz local WiMAX using the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication network. But for many other countries, this WiMAX deployment is much more private sector-led. Taiwan, for example, has already issued licences to six operators to deploy WiMAX throughout the country by 2008. Global network performers such as Nortel and Intel have been deploying WiMAX service in South-East Asian countries. It is expected that by the end of 2009, Asia Pacific WiMAX subscribers will account for 45 percent of the total subscribers in the world. WiMAX services are rolling out very quickly in countries where 3G services are not yet available. For example, Tata has rolled out one of the largest WiMAX networks in the world at 3.3 MHz in 10 Indian cities, including Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.
The 2007 UN ESCAP report suggests that at least three economies in the region (Macau SAR, Hong Kong SAR, and Singapore) have more than one mobile cellular telephone per person. The Maldives, along with China, India, and Macau SAR, registered the most notable increases in the absolute number of mobile phone subscribers in the last few years (see the relevant chapters in this volume).