It is possible, perhaps likely, that mobile operators will emerge as the primary providers of Internet access across South Asia and Southeast Asia. If so, many of the newer trunking provider platforms (medium earth orbit satellite, low earth orbit satellite, balloons and possibly unmanned aerial vehicles) could be enablers of that mobile emergence as the primary retail Internet access platform.

“We view mobile as a complement to our trunking business,” said David Burr, O3b VP. “Our customers often are the mobile operators.”

It makes good economic sense to “deliver a trunk to big cell tower” rather than trying to provide retail service to consumers, said Burr.

At the same time, as mobile operators across the region upgrade from 2G to 3G and 4G, bandwidth demands will grow accordingly, and by orders of magnitude.

In much of Asia, as in some other regions, the smartphone is the gateway to use of the Internet. In India, for example, about 57 percent of the time, the smartphone is the access device of choice.

Even in China, where access using smartphones and PCs or tablets is fairly closely divided, about 45 percent of the time the smartphone is the device of choice, where about 39 percent of the time people use a smartphone or a PC or tablet about the same amount.

In the Philippines, about 39 percent of the time, the smartphone is the preferred or more-used access device. In about 22 percent of instances, smartphones are used about as much as PCs and tablets. In about 21 percent of instances, PCs or tablets are the more-used access device.