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Mobile Operators Target Developing Markets

SINGAPORE — Mobile operators can rely on emerging markets to sustain their future growth, but only if issues such as the relatively high cost of handsets and regulatory gaps are addressed, experts told a June 20 conference here.

Speakers at the CommunicAsia summit said it was the largely untapped segment of poor in markets such as China and India, not new value-added services, that would counter dwindling revenues for the wireless industry in developed countries.

Andrew Buay, chief operating advisor at the Philippines' Globe Telecom, said the wireless industry "will get growth from the poor," noting countries like Indonesia and the Philippines currently offered operators some of the highest operating margins in the world.

"Value-added services, content and the Internet are more uncertain" sources of revenue, he said.

Abdul Wahid bin Omar, group CEO of Telekom Malaysia, also admitted mobile operators "are struggling to push non-voice revenues," adding that the 3G takeup in countries like Malaysia had proven "slower than expected."

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