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Pakistan - Key Statistics, Telecom Market and Infrastructure, Regulatory Overview, and Forecasts

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.

Key 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).

1. Synopsis
2. Key statistics
3. Country overview
3.1 Background
3.2 Economy
4. Telecommunications market
4.1 Overview
4.2 Revenue and investment levels
4.3 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
5. Regulatory environment
5.1 Overview
5.2 Regulatory authorities
5.2.1 Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT)
5.2.2 Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA)
5.2.3 Problems undermining PTA's regulatory role
5.2.4 North Waziristan Agency (NWA)
5.2.5 Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)
5.2.6 Shut down of mobile networks 2012 - 2015
5.3 Telecom sector liberalisation - background
5.4 Telecom Policy - 2015
5.5 Regulatory developments
5.5.1 Internet tax
5.5.2 Proposed new spectrum auction
5.5.3 International Clearing House (ICH) - background
5.5.4 International Clearing House (ICH) developments and demise
5.5.5 Re-verification of SIMs - 2015
5.5.6 Special regions of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K)
5.5.7 Third Generation (3G) and Fourth Generation (4G) licensing
5.5.8 Number portability (NP)
5.5.9 Infrastructure sharing
5.5.10 Zong's complaint to PTA
5.5.11 Censorship
6. Telecommunications infrastructure
6.1 National telecom network
6.1.1 Overview
6.1.2 Fixed line statistics
6.1.3 Forecasts fixed line subscribers 2015; 2017; 2020
6.1.4 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
6.1.5 Worldcall Telecom in dispute with PTA
6.1.6 Universal Service Fund (USF)
6.1.7 Fibre optic networks
6.1.8 Broadband networks
6.1.9 Payphones and Public Call Offices (PCOs)
6.1.10 Backhaul
6.2 International infrastructure
6.2.1 International gateways
6.2.2 Pakistan-India link
6.2.3 Submarine cable networks
6.2.4 Satellite networks and systems
6.3 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
7. Related reports
Table 1 Country statistics 2015
Table 2 Telecom revenue and investment statistics 2015
Table 3 Telephone network statistics June 2015
Table 4 Internet user statistics September 2015
Table 5 Mobile statistics September 2015
Table 6 National telecommunications authorities
Table 7 Pakistan's real GDP growth rate 2005 - 2016
Table 8 Pakistan's total telecom revenue 2004 2015; 2020
Table 9 Pakistan's telecom investment total and mobile - 2004 - 2015
Table 10 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in telecom sector 2002 - 2015
Table 11 Historical fixed-line subscribers and penetration 1991 - 2005
Table 12 Fixed-line subscribers and penetration 2006 - 2015
Table 13 Fixed wireline subscribers 2004 - 2015
Table 14 Fixed wireline v. fixed wireless (WLL) subscribers 2004 2015
Table 15 Fixed wireline subscribers by operator and market share June 2015
Table 16 WLL subscribers 2005 - 2015
Table 17 Fixed-line (wireless) subscribers by operator June 2015
Table 18 Forecast fixed line subscribers 2015; 2017; 2020
Table 19 Public Call Offices (PCOs) 1999 - 2015
Chart 1 - GDP growth rate - 2005-2015
Chart 2 - FDI in telecom sector - 2004-2013
Chart 3 - Fixed lines in service annual change and teledensity - 2005-2014
Chart 4 - Fixed wireline vs. fixed wireless subscribers - 2005-2013
Chart 5 - WLL subscribers by operator and market share - 2013
Chart 6 Public Call Offices - 1999-2013

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