Asian Telcos Jumping Ahead in Worldwide Digital Transformation

Research published this week shows that telecoms operators in East Asia have pushed well ahead of the pack in the worldwide digital transformation.

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Omdia’s annual service provider digital strategy benchmark has been released. Within this, we can see that China Mobile have the lead here, scoring 27.5 out of the maximum 35. Ranking second is SK Telecom with both NTT Docomo and Deutsche Telekom tied in third. 

China Mobile ranks so high due to the scale it has deployed high-speed broadband at and used that infrastructure as a platform to develop new services. SK Telecom is ranked second for similar reasons, but including its recent drive to reinvent itself as an AI company, and develop services in new areas such as the metaverse and urban air mobility. NTT Domoco is in the third spot because of its strengths in technology and the digital sector.

“China Mobile is showing a particularly impressive speed of change, with digital transformation services now accounting for more than 25% of service revenues. China Mobile is rapidly turning itself into a TechCo operator with an array of digital services beyond connectivity.” 

Dario Talmesio, Research Director, Service Provider Strategy and Regulation

This is all true, as China Mobile reported at the end of 2022 their number of deployments increasing by 68.4% year-on-year. In addition to this, their overall business revenue is increasing 23% year-on-year. 

They personally attribute it to their ‘remarkable results’ in the rapid expansion of 5G applications, mobile cloud, digital content smart home and other businesses. ”These services have become a key growth driver contributing to a more balanced, stable and healthy overall revenue structure.” The telco shared in their annual progress report. 

SK Telecom and Lower Ranking Companies

SK Telecom are reported at being in second is based on its drive to reinvest itself. This is evident in the recent history of the company, as a new chief executive taking over outlined ambitious new plans. One of these was to drive a 20% revenue hike between 2020 and 2025. This was expected to be done by transforming the telco into a digital infrastructure and AI company. This meant taking actions such as publicly releasing their ifland metaverse, something they did a year later. 

The company now work with a group of other operators to develop the metaverse technology they have. This group includes Signtel and NTT Docomo, another telco we see ranking high on the list. While not specifying, Omidia praises Docomo’s strengths in technology and digital services.

Another telco that Omidia give special attention is e&, a UAE-based provider. It is the first time the telco has made it into the benchmark, and is ranked fifth alongside Telefónica. Matthew Reed, Chief Analyst for Service Provider Markets, had this to say: ”e&’s strong showing is based on its new strategy, unveiled in early 2022, of transforming itself into a global technology and investment group- a strategy that it is pursuing vigorously.”

With specifically East Asian operators accounting for three of the top four places on the benchmark, it’s a refreshing change to see e& ranked so high. As well as this, Bharti Airtel, a South Asian telco, is ranked in only seventh place. This is mostly due to its launch of 5G throughout India in late 2022. 

Overall, we can see an almost landslide result that puts East Asian service providers as the most advanced worldwide. And with telecoms operators worldwide all working towards digital transformation, it’s great to see it all compiled without the marketing-speak.

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