Smartphones subscriptions set to pass 50 million mark

Connectivity in Thailand is growing by leaps and bounds as smartphone subscriptions are expected to surpass the 50 million mark next year and exceed the number of landlines in the country, according to a report released last week by Swedish global communications company Ericsson.

Globally, Thailand was one of the top 10 countries for an increase in mobile subscription in the first quarter of 2016, the Ericsson survey said, with almost half of all Thai subscribers accessing social media on a daily basis.Smartphone subscriptions in Thailand should surpass 80 million by the year 2021, according to Camilla Vautier, the country manager for Ericsson in Thailand.

“We are witnessing the ‘Internet of Things’ growing at a rapid pace as device costs get more competitive and groundbreaking applications emerge,” Vautier said.

The significance of rapid smartphone growth goes beyond sales and profits for private-sector manufacturers, service providers and communications companies. Several academic studies have found a strong link between the spread of smartphones and economic development and increasing national wealth.

“Smartphones have the ability to revolutionize the economic market, especially in the growing economies of the developing world. With their convenience, affordability, and promises of communication and information, the possibilities for smartphones in all economies are endless,” a paper by a team of researchers at Stanford University in the United States found.

U.S.-based consulting firm Deloitte also uncovered strong connections between the spread of smartphones and economic performance. A Deloitte study said that each doubling of smartphone data usage in a country results in a 0.5 percent increase in gross domestic product. In addition, every 10 percent increase in mobile penetration produces a 4.2 percent increase in total factor productivity in the long run.

According to the Stanford researchers, “enabling access to information, banking, and insurance services, smart phones dramatically increase market efficiency in developing regions. In addition, smartphones provide communication to lower income markets, allowing global corporations to greatly expand their consumer bases and move their products into previously untapped territories.

“The greatest promise of smart phones is that they provide all of these benefits at a fraction of the cost of a computer. Furthermore, they lack the need for a sophisticated and expensive IT infrastructure that requires frequent maintenance,’’ the Stanford paper said.

Ericsson said that the expansion of the middle class in Thailand and the region would drive demand for high-speed broadband services, especially in residential areas.

Fixed-broadband subscriptions for Thai households and small and medium-sized enterprises reached penetration of almost 30 percent in 2015, and are expected to increase to around 40 percent in 2021.

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