Pakistan - Mobile Communications, Broadcasting and Forecasts
The mobile telephone market in Pakistan has been experiencing a period of healthy and sustained development. Mobile services were first offered in 1990 and, despite high costs, grew steadily at first; into the second decade and the market surged, with annual growth running at around 100% for a number of years. Subscriber numbers increased from around three million in 2003 to reach the milestone of 100 million mobile subscribers in the second-half of 2010. Penetration had moved past the 75% mark by mid-2014 with still more room for expansion. Operators have been struggling with falling ARPU but this is set to change with the market shifting from voice to data accelerates in the coming years. The regulator finally auctioned off the 3G concessions in early 2014, setting the scene for a vigorous effort by the operators to expand and consolidate their presence. While significant progress has been made in the regulatory area over the years, some rigidity in policies had been slowing growth and the pressure will build for further change. This report looks at the Pakistani mobile market, as well as a brief look at digital media.
The PTA held the auction for the 3G concessions in April 2014, auctioning off four licences; One 4G licence was sold at auction at the same time; The year 2014 consequently saw a series of 3G network launches with all four licensees operational by July; Zong launched its 4G offering the first of its kind in Pakistan in September 2014; Warid Telecom was looking to launch a 4G service using its existing frequency allocation, having earlier passed up the opportunity to take part in the 3G/4G spectrum auction; mobile banking was offering expanded opportunities for entrepreneurs; the government has decided to ban MNP, although the implementation process for dismantling the system was not clear; unregistered or improperly registered SIMs was continuing to be a major issue in Pakistan; the tax office imposed a new levee on smartphones in 2013; a survey showed that Pakistanis were generally happy with their mobile service.