Pakistan - Key Statistics, Telecom Market and Infrastructure, Regulatory Overview, and Forecasts
Pakistan's telecom market had been struggling for a long time with the transition from a regulated state-owned monopoly to a deregulated competitive structure. The government set out plans to increase fixed-line teledensity from 2.5% at the end of 2002 to 7% (around 10 million fixed lines) by 2010. This target became impossible to achieve in time and by 2012 the fixed subscriber base was actually declining. After peaking at 4% in 2008, fixed penetration had fallen to 3% coming into 2015. In the meantime, though, the focus had changed; the whole telecom landscape in Pakistan had shifted with the rapid expansion of the country's mobile market. Over the planning period 2002 to 2010 the number of mobile subscribers jumped from less than two million to 100 million. Despite a tightening of the national economy during 2009 the mobile market continued to expand at an annual rate of between 5% and 10%. It had increased to 140 million by mid-2014. The market then encountered a problem when the government ordered re-verification of SIMs for security reasons. This saw a dramatic drop in total subscribers. Mobile penetration fell from 77% in June 2014 to 61% twelve months later.
Internet penetration remained low across the country. Broadband growth had almost been negligible for some years, but there were some positive signs in recent years. The big change has been the arrival of mobile broadband in 2014. This has boosted overall broadband growth, helped also by the intense competition in the market place. The granting of 3G and 4G licences in 2014 had certainly changed the broadband landscape.
This report offers a set of statistics on the Pakistan telecoms market, as well as information on the overall regulatory regime and regulatory developments.
the long standing dispute between Etisalat and the government over the purchase of PTCL remained unresolved late into 2015;
total investment in the country's telecom sector was steadily picking up after hitting a low point;
the government issued an urgent directive in early 2015 requiring re-verification of SIMs;
it said the move was specifically aimed at countering the actions of criminals and terrorists;
SIMs not verified were blocked, resulting in a dramatic fall in mobile subscriber numbers;
mobile subscriber numbers had fallen 18% in the year to June 2015;
Mobilink remained the largest mobile player by subscribers with 29% market share;
mobile operators Mobilink and Warid Telecom had reportedly agreed to merge;
3G subscribers comprised 15% of the total mobile subscriber base by September 2015;
PTCL claimed 96% of the fixed wireline subscriber market as of mid-2015;
government efforts to exercise control over the internet continue to draw criticism;
the E-Government Strategy for 2012-2015 is ongoing, as Pakistan tries to lift its lowly ranking;
mobile broadband services have totally overwhelmed the fixed broadband sector of the market;
Fixed broadband penetration was around 1% into 2015;
mobile broadband penetration was 10% by mid-2015, with annual growth of around 100%;
the Punjab government introduced a controversial 19.5% sales tax on internet services;
after widespread opposition, the plans for the new tax were cancelled;
the MoITT sent the draft Telecommunications Policy 2015 to Cabinet for approval;
Public Call Offices (PCOs) numbers fell dramatically from 289,000 in 2013 to 53,900 in 2015.
Companies mentioned in this report include:
Pakistan Telecommunication Co Ltd (PTCL); Mobilink (PMCL); Ufone (PTML, PTCL's subsidiary); Telenor Pakistan; Warid Telecom; Zong (formerly CMPak); WorldCall; TeleCard; Dancom Pakistan; FLAG Telecom Group; Special Communication Organization (SCO); National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC).