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Pakistan - Mobile Communications, Broadcasting and Forecasts

Pakistan - Mobile Communications, Broadcasting and Forecasts

The mobile telephone market in Pakistan has been experiencing a period of healthy and sustained development, despite some setbacks. Subscriber numbers increased from around three million back in 2003 to reach the milestone of 100 million mobile subscribers in 2010. By mid-2014 the mobile market had reached 140 million subscribers for a penetration of 77%. It then suffered one of its setbacks. 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 there were 115 million subscribers and penetration had fallen to 61%. But the market already appears to be recovering. In the meantime, operators have been struggling with falling ARPU but this was set to change with the process of market shift from voice to data accelerating in the coming years.

After the regulator finally assigned 3G concessions, we have seen 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 taking a brief look at digital media.

Key developments:

the four 3G licensed operators are continuing the development of their 3G networks;
3G subscribers comprised 15% of the total mobile subscriber base by September 2015;
Zong's 4G offering was growing steadily but still with relatively small number of subscribers;
Warid Telecom had launched its 4G/LTE service using its existing frequency allocation;
mobile banking was offering expanded opportunities for entrepreneurs;
the government decided to ban MNP and then later reversed this ban;
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;
SIMs not verified were blocked, resulting in a dramatic fall in mobile subscriber numbers;
mobile voice and internet services were disabled in October 2015 for reasons of national security;
operator Zong complained to the PTA of distortion problems experienced in its allocated spectrum.

Companies mentioned in this report include:

Mobilink (PMCL); Ufone (PTML, PTCL's subsidiary); Telenor Pakistan; Warid Telecom; Zong (CMPak); Instaphone.


1. Synopsis
2. Mobile communications
2.1 Pakistan's mobile market
2.1.1 Overview
2.1.2 Background to development
2.2 Mobile statistics
2.3 Forecasts mobile subscribers 2015; 2017; 2020
2.3.1 Scenario forecasts
2.3.2 Notes on forecasting
2.4 Third Generation (3G) licences
2.4.1 Background
2.4.2 Auction April 2014
2.4.3 Licensing
2.4.4 Launch
2.5 Fourth Generation (4G) / Long Term Evolution (LTE)
2.5.1 Licensing
2.5.2 Launches
2.5.3 Proposed second 3G/4G auction
2.6 Regulatory issues and developments
2.6.1 Mobile phone tax
2.6.2 Number portability (NP)
2.6.3 Control of SIMs background
2.6.4 Control of SIMs - re-verification programme - 2015
2.6.5 Control of SIMs Afghan services
2.7 Mobile voice services
2.7.1 Prepaid
2.8 Mobile data services
2.8.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
2.8.2 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
2.8.3 Blackberry
2.8.4 Mobile TV
2.8.5 M-commerce / m-banking
2.8.6 Innovation in mobile financial services
3. Broadcasting
3.1 Market overview
3.2 Regulatory issues
3.2.1 Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance 2002
3.2.2 Digital terrestrial broadcasting
3.3 Free-to-Air (FTA) broadcasting
3.3.1 Pakistan Television Corporation
3.3.2 Shalimar Television Network
3.4 Pay TV
3.5 Cable TV (CATV)
3.6 Internet Protocol TV (IPTV)
3.7 Direct to Home (DTH)
4. Related reports
Table 1 Historical - mobile subscribers 1995 - 2005
Table 2 Mobile subscribers 2006 - 2015
Table 3 3G mobile subscribers 2015
Table 4 3G, 4G and LTE mobile subscribers by operator September 2015
Table 5 Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change June 2015
Table 6 Mobile operators, subscribers and market share June 2015
Table 7 Mobile services revenue 1998 - 2015
Table 8 Mobile services revenue 2011 - 2015
Table 9 Historical - overall ARPU across all mobile operators 2002; 2004 - 2009
Table 10 Forecast mobile subscribers 2015; 2017; 2020
Table 11 Proportion of prepaid mobile subscribers 2005 - 2015
Table 12 Key broadcasting statistics 2014
Table 13 Cable TV subscribers 2003 - 2013
Chart 1 - Mobile subscribers, annual change and penetration - 2000-2014
Chart 2 - Mobile operators and market share - May 2014

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