Pakistan - Mobile Infrastructure, Broadband, Operators - Statistics and Analyses
Pakistan's mobile market has experienced moderate growth over the last five years. Mobile penetration has risen from 64% in 2011 to 73% in 2014, however then declined marginally to 71% by 2016, due to a mature market and very strong local competition. Also the government issued an urgent directive in early 2015 requiring re-verification of SIMs by the mobile operators which saw a sharp drop in mobile subscribers. 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. Slow growth is predicted over the next five years to 2021.
Growth opportunities in Pakistan are very substantial due to a young population here and rising penetration of mobile services. The country's five active mobile operators - Mobilink, Ufone, Telenor Pakistan, Warid and Zong - were all fighting for a larger share of the market, forcing down prices and subsequently Average Revenue Per Unit (ARPU). The operators were shifting their focus to Value Added Services (VAS) in order to improve revenues.
In November 2015 Vimpelcom signed an agreement to merge Mobilink with Warid Telecom. Under the terms of the agreement, Mobilink will acquire 100% of Waird's shares, in exchange for which Abu Dhabi Group (the owner of Warid) will take approximately 15% of the shares in Mobilink. In May 2016 Sector the PTA gave conditional approval to the merger of mobile operators Mobilink and Warid and the transaction was completed in July 2016. The legal merger of the two companies is expected to be completed within the next 12 to 18 months.
4G network rollouts continue across the country. In August 2016 Telenor Pakistan launched its 4G network in selected areas of Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Multan, and Faisalabad as well as parts of the Swat district.
Zong released plans to invest between USD300 million and USD400 million to extend 3G and 4G coverage to 100% and 60% respectively by the end of 2016.
The PTA auctioned a single concession for 850MHz frequencies
Zong's 4G offering was growing steadily but still with relatively small number of subscribers;
mobile banking was offering expanded opportunities for entrepreneurs;
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.
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