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.
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.