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Pakistan - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

This report provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications and digital media markets in the Pakistan. Subjects covered include:

  • Key statistics;
  • Market and industry overviews;
  • Regulatory environment;
  • Major players (fixed and mobile);
  • Infrastructure;
  • Mobile voice and data market;
  • Internet, including VoIP;
  • Broadband (DSL, cable modem, wireless);
  • Telecom market subscriber forecasts for selective years to 2018.


Pakistan’s telecom market struggled for a long time as it tried to make the transition from a regulated state-owned monopoly to a deregulated competitive structure. The much-anticipated surge in growth in the country’s telecom industry eventually happened and it was looking set to continue for some time as the government’s reform plans were progressively implemented. That was until the economy started to falter in 2008/09.  

Despite what was looking like a setback to growth in the telecom sector, it should be noted that a good foundation for future growth had already been put in place. As the government moved away from the old state-owned monopoly to a new competitive structure, it made a decision to target lifting the national fixed-line teledensity from 2.5% at end-2002 to 7% (or around 11 million subscribers) by 2010. With only 4% teledensity by mid-2009, however, this target was certainly not going to be achieved. Nevertheless, in terms of industry restructuring much that was positive had been achieved in the meantime. In fact, the whole telecom landscape in Pakistan had been changing over this period with the phenomenal expansion of the country’s mobile market leading the way.  

Over the 2002-2009 period, the number of mobile subscribers rocketed from less than 2 million to more than 94 million (58% penetration). The 2006-2007 period in particular had been remarkable for the country’s mobile operators as the total subscriber base moved from 22 million at the beginning of 2006 to 77 million at end-2007. By early 2008, the 50% penetration milestone had been reached, probably much faster than most people expected. Despite a tightening national economy, coming into 2009 the mobile market continued to expand at an annual rate in excess of 10%.  

By 2009, however, Internet penetration remained low and broadband growth had also been negligible. There was some good news on this front when the year 2008 saw an upsurge in broadband subscriptions; importantly, this looked to be continuing in 2009, boosted by the spread of competition throughout the market. DSL subscriptions were dominating the broadband market, quite overshadowing the cable modem broadband services provided using HFC infrastructure.  

In the meantime, early signs of wireless-based broadband Internet technologies had begun to appear and by 2008 there were a number of WiMAX networks being rolled out in the larger urban centres. For the time being, however, the number of wireless broadband subscribers remains relatively small.  

The big challenge in the short term for Pakistan’s telecom market will be to manage the impact of a pronounced downturn in the national economy. The 2008/09 fiscal year saw a huge dip in FDI as foreign investment in the country suffered a significant overall reduction. In the longer term the ongoing task of regulatory reform will be the major challenge.

  Key highlights

  • Despite a faltering economy and speculation that the mobile market was saturating, Pakistan still managed to grow its mobile subscriber numbers in 2009, reaching 94 million subscribers (almost 60% penetration) by June 2009.
  • Growth in mobile subscribers was continuing at an annual rate of about 12% in 2009, modest compared with previous years, yet still representing healthy growth in the circumstances.
  • Pakistan’s mobile sector has been boosted by increased competition, with newcomers Warid Telecom and Telenor (both launched in 2005) having quickly claimed big stakes in the market. By mid-2009, their combined market share had reached just over 41%.
  • Broadband Internet penetration remains low in Pakistan (around 0.2% in early 2009) but 2008/09 had witnessed a strong surge in demand for broadband services that looked set to continue.
  • Growth in the country’s fixed-line market remained sluggish; fixed teledensity stood at less than 4% by end-2008 with the numbers expected to only edge up slightly in the short term.
  • One positive factor in the emerging fixed market has been the success of WLL technology which was supporting around 35% of all fixed subscribers by early 2009.
  •  
Pakistan - Key telecom parameters - 2008 - 2009
Category | 2008 | 2009 (e) |
Fixed-line services:
  • Total subscribers (million) | 6.2 | 6.5 |
  • Annual growth | -7% | 5% |
  • Fixed-line penetration (population) | 3.8% | 4.0% |
  • Fixed-line penetration (household) | 23% | 23% |
Internet:
  • Total subscribers (million) | 3.7 | 4.0 |
  • Annual growth | 6% | 8% |
  • Internet subscriber penetration (population) | 2% | 2% |
  • Mobile services:
    • Total subscribers (million) | 90.0 | 99.0 |
    • Annual growth | 17% | 10% |
    • Mobile penetration (population) | 56% | 60% |
    | (Source: BuddeComm)  

    Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

1. Key Statistics
2. Telecommunications Market
2.1 Overview of Pakistan’s telecom market
2.1.1 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
3. Regulatory Environment
3.1 Overview
3.2 Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT)
3.3 Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA)
3.4 Telecom sector liberalisation
3.5 National numbering scheme
3.6 Number portability (NP)
3.7 Universal Service Obligation (USO)
3.8 ‘Grey market’ traffic
3.9 Security
3.10 Censorship
4. Fixed Network Operators in Pakistan
4.1 Major fixed-line players
4.1.1 Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL)
4.1.2 Worldcall group
4.1.3 TeleCard
5. Fixed Network Voice Services
5.1 International voice traffic
5.2 International prepaid calling card services
6. Telecommunications Infrastructure
6.1 National telecom network
6.1.1 Fibre optic networks
6.1.2 Broadband networks
6.1.3 Payphones and PCOs
6.1.4 Wireless Local Loop (WLL)
6.1.5 Next Generation Networks (NGNs)
6.2 International infrastructure
6.2.1 Submarine cable networks
6.2.2 Satellite networks and systems
6.2.3 VSAT networks
6.2.4 Paksat Project
6.3 Infrastructure developments
6.3.1 Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
6.3.2 IP networks
7. Internet Market
7.1 Overview
7.1.1 Internet statistics
7.1.2 Major government initiatives
7.1.3 Internet censorship
7.2 ISP market
7.3 E-services
7.3.1 E-commerce
7.3.2 E-government
8. Broadband Market
8.1 Overview
8.1.1 Broadband statistics
8.1.2 Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL)
8.2 Cable modem
8.3 Digital Subscriber Line (DSL)
8.4 Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH)
8.5 Wireless broadband
8.5.1 WiMAX
8.5.2 Internet via satellite
9. Broadcasting
9.1 Key statistics
9.2 Regulatory issues
9.2.1 Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Ordinance 2002
9.3 Free-to-Air (FTA) broadcasting
9.3.1 Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation
9.3.2 Pakistan Television Corporation
9.3.3 Shalimar Television Network (STN)
9.4 Pay TV
9.5 Cable TV (CATV)
9.6 Internet Protocol TV (IPTV)
9.6.1 PTCL’s Smart TV
10. Mobile Communications
10.1 Overview of Pakistan’s mobile market
10.1.1 Mobile statistics
10.1.2 Competitive market
10.2 Regulatory issues
10.2.1 Additional licences
10.2.2 Third Generation (3G) licences
10.2.3 Calling Party Pays (CPP)
10.2.4 Licensing in Azad Jammu and Kashmir
10.3 Major mobile operators
10.3.1 Mobilink (PMCL)
10.3.2 Pakcom (Instaphone)
10.3.3 Ufone (PTCL)
10.3.4 Telenor Pakistan
10.3.5 Warid Telecom
10.3.6 Zong (formerly CMPak)
10.4 Mobile voice services
10.4.1 Prepaid
10.4.2 Satellite mobile
10.5 Mobile data services
10.5.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
10.5.2 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
10.5.3 Mobile TV
10.5.4 M-commerce
11. Forecasts
11.1 Overview
11.2 Forecast fixed-line market - 2007 - 2008; 2013; 2018
11.3 Forecast Internet market - 2007 - 2008; 2013; 2018
11.4 Forecast mobile market - 2007 - 2008; 2013; 2018
12. Glossary of Abbreviations
Table 1 - Country statistics Pakistan - 2009
Table 2 - Telecom revenue and investment statistics - 2007
Table 3 - Telephone network statistics - June 2009
Table 4 - Internet user statistics - 2008
Table 5 - Mobile statistics - March 2009
Table 6 - National telecommunications authorities
Table 7 - Foreign Direct Investment in telecom sector - 2001 - 2009
Table 8 - ‘Fixed-Line’ licences issued by PTA - March 2008
Table 9 - Fixed-line subscribers by operator - March 2009
Table 10 - WLL subscribers by operator and market share - July 2009
Table 11 - Growth in Public Call Offices (PCOs) - 1999 - 2007
Table 12 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1991 - 2009
Table 13 - WLL subscribers - 2005 - 2009
Table 14 - WLL subscribers by operator and market share - July 2009
Table 15 - Fixed subscriber growth - wireline and wireless (WLL) - 2004 - 2008
Table 16 - Internet users - 1995 - 2009
Table 17 - Internet subscribers - 1997; 2000 - 2009
Table 18 - Broadband subscribers - 2004 - 2008
Table 19 - Broadband subscribers by type - 2008
Table 20 - DSL broadband subscribers - 2005 - 2008
Table 21 - Key broadcasting statistics - 2008
Table 22 - Cable TV licence categories
Table 23 - Mobile subscribers - 1995 - 2009
Table 24 - Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change - March 2009
Table 25 - Mobile operators, subscribers and market share - March 2009
Table 26 - Mobile services revenue - 1998 - 2008
Table 27 - Overall ARPU across all mobile operators - 2002; 2004 - 2008
Table 28 - Mobile monthly ARPU by operator - March 2008
Table 29 - Forecast fixed-line subscribers - 2007 - 2008; 2013; 2018
Table 30 - Forecast Internet subscribers - 2007 - 2008; 2013; 2018
Table 31 - Forecast mobile subscribers - 2007 - 2008; 2013; 2018
Exhibit 1 - Long Distance International (LDI) licensees - August 2008
Exhibit 2 - Local Loop (LL) licensees - June 2008
Exhibit 3 - Wireless Local Loop (WLL) licensees - March 2008
Exhibit 4 - PTCL subsidiary companies
Exhibit 5 - Joint ventures and affiliated companies

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