Mobile data services underpin growth in BRIC economies

Increasing adoption of messaging and content services, aided by the availability of 2G and 3G-based mobile networks, is expected to push operator-billed data revenues in the mobile markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China (collectively referred to as the BRIC economies) from $26.2 billion in 2008 to more than $48.3 billion by 2013, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

The research highlights broader expectations that these four markets will be among the six largest economies in the world by 2050, by which time their mutual interdependence and trading abilities will have significantly shielded them from weakening economic conditions elsewhere in the world. They will be matched in size only by the US and by Mexico.

According to report author Andrew Kitson: “As fixed line telephony and broadband availability via traditional forms of access remains low in comparison with other important economies, these countries are expected to turn to the mobile phone for much of their future communications, banking, entertainment, commerce and lifestyle needs. Indeed, in countries such as India, low cost multi functional mobile handsets will become an essential part of everyday life for millions of people otherwise beyond the geographic and economic reach of basic fixed line infrastructure. This, in turn, will help continue to drive economic growth. Mobile data will therefore be central to this unfolding story.”

For operators, the key change in the next five years will be the launch of commercial 3G services (currently available only on a regional basis in Russia and Brazil) as well as migrating low cost prepaid users to higher value postpaid offerings wherever they can. However, with billions of dollars set to be spent on establishing these next generation networks, the fundamental question facing players will be whether they can turn a profit from markets that will still have very low GDP per capita levels by 2050.