With the mobile market in Pakistan has been experiencing a period of healthy and sustained development on one hand and the fixed line market languishing badly on the other, not surprisingly the operators in the respective market segments are experiencing contrasting fortunes. In fact the Pakistani mobile market has become highly competitive, with all five of the major operators vigorously battling for market share. The market newcomers have been strong in asserting their presence. Zong and Telenor in particular both grabbed significant market share quickly. In recent years, the operators have seen a general slowing in the growth rate of subscribers, but revenues were continuing to increase with high usage by customers.
The government issued an urgent directive in early 2015 requiring re-verification of SIMs by the mobile operators; the move was specifically aimed at countering the actions of criminals and terrorists. The process meant that SIMs not verified were blocked, resulting in a dramatic fall in mobile subscriber numbers. By mid-2015 the number of active subscribers had fallen to 115 million and penetration was down to 61%. Unofficial figures for the number of SIMs blocked at the end of the process ranged from Telenor with 8.53 million down to Warid with 1.65 million.
In the meantime, the struggling fixed-line market in Pakistan is still dominated by Pakistan Telecommunications Company Ltd (PTCL). The end of PTCL's monopoly status in 2002, and with it the licensing of competing operators, has done little to change the commercial landscape for this segment of the market. By mid-2015 PTCL's fixed wireline subscriber base had fallen to around 3 million, its subscriber base representing around 96% of the total fixed wireline market. The private operators are a little better represented in the fixed wireless market claiming a little over half the subscribers in that segment. The total fixed line market including fixed wireless services was just 5.2 million for a teledensity of around 3%.
This report presents an overview, including subscriber statistics, for the major telecom operators in Pakistan.
the long standing dispute between Etisalat and the government over the purchase of PTCL remained unresolved late into 2015; Mobilink remained the largest mobile player by subscribers with 29% market share; second placed Telenor was quickly closing the gap with a 29% share of the market; having reached a high of 18 million subscribers by 2009, Warid Telecom had seen its subscriber base decline to 13 million by 2015 (just 9% of the market); it was reported in October 2015 that mobile operators Mobilink and Warid Telecom had reportedly agreed to merge their businesses; the four 3G operators were continuing to grow their 3G networks, with 3G subscribers comprising 15% of the total mobile subscriber base by September 2015; Zong's 4G offering was expanding steadily but still with a relatively small number of subscribers; Warid Telecom had launched its 4G/LTE service; PTCL claimed 96% of the fixed wireline subscriber market as of mid-2015; fixed-line operator WorldCall was continuing to struggle financially.