Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing major area in a worldwide market for telecommunications systems and support services, which will be worth $US650 billion by 2001.
While such growth is fairly evenly distributed across the major geographical areas, countries which go ahead with market deregulation will see more competition leading to higher growth, according to Michael Butcher, president and chief executive officer of Lucent Technologies Asia-Pacific.
The Asia-Pacific telecommunications market will grow annually at 16 per cent to be worth $180 billion by 2001, compared to 14 per cent annual growth in North America and 13 per cent growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Butcher said.
The Asia-Pacific market offers tremendous opportunities, but is not an easy one for vendors to address because of the wide variations across the region, according to Butcher.
"The region covers a huge geographical area and includes countries with some of the highest teledensities in the world as well as some with among the lowest," he said. "These countries have very different telecommunications infrastructure needs from one another."
Highly liberalized countries and those with complex regional divisions have considerably higher levels of competition, according to Butcher. For instance, Australia has 650 ISPs and 27 NSPs (network service providers) for a population of 17 million, while Singapore has three ISPs and two NSPs for a population of 3 million.
"Asia has had many decades of regulation in telecommunications and only in the last two or three years have deregulatory pressures begun to help open up the market," Butcher said. "Deregulation causes massive structural changes, many new operators will be created over the next few years and technology will enable businesses that we cannot even dream of yet."
According to Butcher, there will be 1000 telecommunications carriers worldwide by next year to meet demand which is seeing Internet traffic doubling every 100 days and the number of wireless subscribers reaching 615 million by 2002, beginning to overhaul fixed-line penetration.
"Over 50 per cent of the world's population has yet to make a phone call, but the rate at which costs are dropping means that a large number of those people will have telecommunications within 10 years," he said.