At the end of September, there were 20 networks in the world with more than 30 million customers. Eight of these were in the Asia Pacific region including the largest and the second largest. Six of the 20 come from just two countries, China and India, and these six together account for over 650 million customers, or nearly 21% of the global total.
In previous issues, when reviewing this region, we have noted that the weight of demographics limits the number of changes in the order of the top ten operators and this continues to be the case. The one change this quarter is that Bharti has now overtaken Telkomsel in Indonesia to take fourth place with a total of 48.9 million customers at the end of the period. It is poised to jump another place in the current quarter (at DoCoMo's expense) as the recently-published November numbers show the Japanese operator has added just a handful of new customers since the end of the quarter, to stand at 53.03 million, while the Indian number one has taken on a further 4 million to reach 52.96 million, less than seventy thousand below the company that was for almost all of the last century the clear global leader.
Asia Pacific, Leading MNOs (m)
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DoCoMo's reign came to an end after mergers in China brought a sufficient number of provinces into China Mobile's orbit. That was seven years ago, after which China Mobile went on to become not just the largest national operator but the largest mobile company overall, measured by customer numbers. It retains that position today and as before, China Unicom is still in second place in the league of national operators. Only regulatory intervention or some extraordinary reorganisation is likely to threaten China Mobile's dominance, but rumours of dismemberment continue to surround Unicom and the company's management has issued a press release denying any imminent structural change. One suggestion which seems plausible is that the company will divest its CDMA network, ahead of a formal decision on 3G, with China United being tipped as the possible buyer. This would create a major new force in the region, as the CDMA company is, in its own right, the 12th largest network in the world.
Of the other companies in the regional top ten, two are Japanese (the other being KDDI, in ninth place, with 28.7 million customers), one is Indonesian, one Pakistani and the remaining four Indian. These are shown in the graph below: we have truncated the scale to allow a more meaningful comparison between China Mobile and all the rest.
Source: Cellular News.