Colloquium on Pakistan’s Telecommunication Sector

Posted on December 1, 2006  /  1 Comments

As part of the Six Country Indicators Project, Joseph presented the interim findings from the Pakistan country study (over Skype). The study assesses Pakistan’s telecom sector and regulatory performance. It employs the common methodology and list of indicators adopted for the Six Country study.

Pakistani telecom market is growing very fast currently.
Its market is liberalized with various types of Licenses: Local Loop,
Long Distance and International, Wireless Local Loop, Audiotex / Premium Services, Card Pay Phone Services, Vehicle Tracking Services, Video Conferencing Services.

Mobile penetration is relatively high and rising: 18% (Feb.), 22% (July), est. 32% (Dec.); Currently the market is governed by a CPP regime (previously RPP – till 2000). Handsets are cheap (below USD 100), subscription fees are low, and prepaid cards are available for as low as US 50 cents. There is number portability (since Jul 2006). Internet access is affordable (cost not more than local phone call).

The move from RPP to CPP and the implementaion of number portablity has benefitted the sector significantly.

Mobile sector revenue has grown by 84 % from 2005-2006. Fixed sector mobile is expected to increase with privatization. There has been 29.2% nominal increase in gross value addition of telecom sector in 2005-06. This is a direct effect of positive and consistent investment influx in the country.

The taxes imposed are higher in this sector as compared to their counterparts in the region. Yet, the sector is growing significantly – these could be the benefits of liberalization.

New players in the industry in 2004 & 2005 (Telenor and Warid)  has resulted in job creation. This sector is still attracting investment and thus contributing in human resource development in the employment sector as well.

The total teledensity for fixed and mobile telecom services has shown a phenomenal growth from 2003. Although the reforms ‘began’ in 2000 –i.e., the law/policy was formulated, the real growth (resulting form actual implementation – i.e., competition entering the market) began in 2003. The resulting growth is being seen now.

Mid-2006 saw total teledensity at 27.76%. The growth can be attributed to regulatory reforms encouraging level playing field for new investors, encouraging demand in consumers.

PTCL still has a 98% share in local market. Fixed line connections have in fact dropped due to intense competition from WLL services.

Mobile sector has been consistently breaking records in the telecom market in Pakistan. Currently there are 3.6 million cellular subscribers.

As of 2006, Pakistan had 2.5 million Internet subscribers.  Broadband adoption has grown from its introduction in 2004, but high tariffs and inadequate access to infrastructure pose significant challenges. PTCL enjoys a monopoly in setting the IPLC Tariffs, which are quite high as compared to the regional tariffs.

Mobile sector has been consistently breaking records in the telecom market in Pakistan. Currently there are 3.6 million cellular subscribers.
Post Deregulation (2003)., there has been an upsurge in growth trend reaching 170%. Much of this is owed to a liberalized telecom sector and positive investment trend of cellular companies. YoY cellular growth dips in 2003.

The introduction of value added services such as GPRS/MMS, EDGE and Blackberry corporate mobile email solutions by the mobile operators (2003) has helped growth in mobile subscribers over the years,

SMS use has grown by nearly 100% last year due to launch of free on-net text services by Telenor.

69% of the total population resides in rural areas while 31% in the urban areas, yet the fixed teledensity digital divide indicator shows a murky imbalance between the two areas in terms of access to services. Balochistan has the lowest density of 1.8 after NWFP.
Telecom regulatory environment assessments:

The TRE Survey had been disseminated among a varied pool of informed professionals. A quarter have responded so far. Overall, the Mobile Sector has received positive feedback (especially in market entry) while fixed sector only shows signs of encouragement in market entry dimension. This is due to the entrance of new companies in the WLL services. There is an appreciable response towards market entry and tariff regulation undertaken by the regulator.

Pakistan has USO’s in mobile as well as fixed.

1 Comment

  1. Good Summary. Just a minor correction that mobile number portability has not yet been implemented.

    Also the number of mobile subscribers is over 40 Million.