Cost of broadband still beyond many in Asia

I’ve often talked about a “digital divide” in Asia and research from Ovum provides further fuel for the fire concluding that many customers in emerging markets are priced out of broadband internet.

Via the write-up at Telecom Asia:

(The) study of prices in countries including Malaysia, the Philippines, India and Pakistan found that prices have fallen in most markets since 2010. But consumers in emerging markets are still paying far more for fixed and wireless broadband than their mature market counterparts.

Senior analyst Richard Hurst said pricing, coupled with the lower GDP per capita, mean that “broadband is only available to the highest socioeconomic groups.”

This doesn’t even reflect the cost of purchasing the necessary hardware for broadband. Smartphones, laptops and tablets are becoming more affordable but, for precisely the reasons outlined above, they remain out of reach for many.

Away from broadband, internet access is growing thanks to basic mobile internet access through regular phones or budget smartphone devices.

Mobile remains the big hope for extending internet access in developing markets such as Asia

The style of post-pay, minimum contract tariffs which are commonly used for broadband by ISPs goes against Asia’s overwhelming pre-pay culture – which is particularly strong amongst the less affluent. Those in emerging countries are far more likely to go with mobile internet on prepay which is becoming stronger through flexible mobile operator pricing and tariffs.

Mobile will be a key driver of internet in Asia but broadband, and broadband-like technology, has the potential to be a real game-changer by providing a far better user experience, and making the internet more useful for those in developing markets that can make use of better communications, access to information, learning opportunities and more.