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Asian Cellular Subscriber Growth Drops 21%

Mobile subscriber growth in the Asia-Pacific telecom market fell 21% in Q4 2008, the region's lowest growth rate in seven quarters, research firm Informa Telecoms and Media said. The region's operators added just 68.7 million new subscribers, the researchers said. Some of the fastest-growing mobile markets—Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines—were hit particularly hard. Globally, subscriptions fell 15% to 162 million in Q4, and growth also slowed markedly in Europe, North America and Latin America, Informa said. The quarter is usually the strongest in the year because of the Christmas holiday. The global recession is the main factor in the slowdown, but market saturation also contributed. By the end of 2008, there were just under 4 billion active mobile subscriptions globally - a 58% penetration rate, Informa said. EMEA, where the penetration rate is 38%, proved relatively resilient. The recent restructuring of the Chinese mobile market has also led to a slowdown in growth, Informa added. Non-voice revenue spending fell 0.1% between the third and fourth quarters to $48.9 billion. In contrast, data revenues grew by 5% during the third quarter, the researchers said. Separately, metrics firm comScore said mobile broadband data card growth shrank to just 5% in Q4, down from 22% the quarter before. Data card adoption grew 63%, down from 157% in 2007.

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