But with traditional voice demands in decline it’s an industry in the throes of evolution, even revolution, with the most innovative carriers bringing services to the fore and capitalising on growing demand in emerging sectors like content and Over The Top (OTT) players. 

In Capacity Intelligence’s Asia Wholesale Report 2017, released this month, a landslide of respondents to the study (75%) said video and music streaming are the main drivers of growth for data in Asia, followed closely by social media (72%), stressing the ubiquity of smartphone penetration and high consumer expectations in the region. Regionally produced content is seen as the number one opportunity for 75% of respondents, followed closely by developments in the Internet of Things space by 65% of respondents. 

Indeed, it’s a trend that’s been well documented by other researchers such as Telecom Asia in its own Wholesale report for 2016, which identified that OTTs such as gaming and cloud companies are buying more capacity, with the market for cloud transit developing rapidly from a very low base. 
Meanwhile, the mobile market continues to expand, with almost four billion mobile connections in the Asia-Pacific as of 2016 according to Ericsson, accounting for almost 50% of the global total. And this isn’t just voice, but messaging, advertising, roaming, data analytics and video. Moreover, innovation in the mobile sector is seeing the launch of more Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in Asia, not just offering traditional voice and data but also specialist services such as health, connected homes, and video conferencing. 

In its report, Capacity Intelligence notes that all carriers are expecting growth, with mature markets seeing stable single digit growth in voice and data and emerging markets expecting growth for the same in excess of 100% over the next few years. International connectivity is important, with 35% of report respondents seeing business split 50/50 between Asia and international, 34% seeing a 25/75 split in favour of international and 16% doing 100% of business internationally. 

As a result, the most important factors in managing demand for telecoms services are international connectivity (72%) followed by a carrier with next generation technology (66%). 

It’s these next generation technologies, such as high speed optical waves and Software Defined Networking (SDN) that enables bandwidth to be more flexible and responsive to volatile demand across data centres and different locations.  Just as capacity or compute in data centres is scalable and on-tap, a few innovators, including Colt, are offering pay-as-you-use and on-demand bandwidth models. 

As the Asia Wholesale Report identifies, this represents a significant shift in the service mentality of wholesalers, and shows a willingness to evolve with the market.