Pakistan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses
Two of Pakistan’s MNOs complete 5G trials
Pakistan’s telecom market has had to transition from a regulated state-owned monopoly to a deregulated competitive structure. The transition, and the development of the telecom sector generally, has been greatly aided by foreign investment.
Despite the government’s promotion of internet services and the expansion of access nationally over the past decade, fixed broadband penetration remains very low. The fixed-line telephony market, dominated by Pakistan Telecommunications, is similarly underdeveloped, and the number of fixed lines is slowly declining as the mobile segment continues to expand. Many areas of the country, particularly in the northern regions, have very limited telecom services though the Universal Service Fund Company continues to address this with various projects, mainly geared at extending mobile broadband.
As in many countries in Asia, both businesses and government agencies in Pakistan are opening up to the benefits of third-party data centres for public, private and hybrid cloud deployments. Data centres have been established in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, while telcos managing data centres include Telenor, Zong, and Ufone.
The mobile market has experienced moderate growth over the last six years, supported by a young population and a rising popularity of mobile services. Slow to moderate growth is predicted over the next five years, though stronger growth will be constrained by local competition which has kept prices down and ARPU low.
Mobilink and Warid merged their operations into a single brand, Jazz, which reduced the number of mobile operators from six to five. Further market consolidation is anticipated over the next few years as the operating margins of the major operators come under further pressure.
In January 2020 Zong and Jazz completed 5G trials, having been awarded six-month licences. The capacity of LTE infrastructure and the lack of compelling user cases for 5G suggests that network operators are not yet pressed to launch commercial services.
BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.
On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.
Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.
The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.
- Regulator postpones renewal of Telenor Pakistan’s GSM licence due to COVID-19 crisis;
- China-Pakistan Fiber Optic Project becomes operational;
- Jazz reported having 19.1 million LTE subscribers, completes 5G trials;
- Universal Service Fund (USF) and Ufone sign contract to provide broadband coverage for the Makran Coastal Highway;
- Report update includes operator data to Q2 2020, regulator’s market data to July 2020, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.
Pakistan Telecommunication (PTCL); Ufone (PTML, PTCL’s subsidiary); Telenor Pakistan; Warid Telecom; Zong; WorldCall; TeleCard; PakNet; Wateen Telecom (subsidiary of Warid Telecom); Mobilink; NayaTel; Wi-Tribe; National Telecommunications (NTC), Instaphone
2 REGIONAL ASIAN MARKET COMPARISON
3 COUNTRY OVERVIEW
4 COVID-19 AND ITS IMPACT ON THE TELECOM SECTOR
4.1 Economic considerations and responses
4.2 Mobile devices
5 TELECOMMUNICATIONS MARKET
5.1 Market overview and analysis
5.2 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
6 REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT
6.1 Regulatory authorities
6.2 Fixed-line developments
6.3 Mobile network developments
7 MOBILE MARKET
7.1 Market overview and analysis
7.2 Mobile statistics
7.3 Mobile infrastructure
7.4 Major mobile operators
7.5 Mobile content and applications
8 FIXED-LINE BROADBAND MARKET
8.1 Market analysis
8.2 Broadband statistics
8.3 Fixed broadband service providers
8.4 Fixed broadband technologies
9 DIGITAL ECONOMY
10 FIXED NETWORK OPERATORS
10.1 Fixed network subscribers by operator
10.2 Pakistan Telecommunication Compnay (PTCL)
10.3 WorldCall group
10.5 Wateen Telecom
11 TELECOMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE
11.1 Overview of the national telecom network
11.2 Fixed line statistics
11.3 Fibre networks
11.4 International infrastructure
11.5 Data centres
11.6 Smart infrastructure
12 APPENDIX HISTORIC DATA
13 GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS
14 RELATED REPORTS
Table 1 Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities Pakistan 2020 (e)
Table 2 Development of telecom revenue by category - 2010 2019
Table 3 Development of telecom investment by type - 2010 2019
Table 4 Development of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in telecoms 2008 2019
Table 5 Percentage of Population Covered by Type of Mobile Network
Table 6 Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration 2010 2025
Table 7 Growth in the number of mobile subscribers (regulator data) 2015 2020
Table 8 Growth in the number of LTE subscribers by operator 2016 - 2020
Table 9 Change in the number of 3G subscribers by operator 2015 - 2020
Table 10 Growth in the number of mobile broadband subscribers and penetration 2010 2025
Table 11 Change in the number of mobile subscribers by operator 2013 2020
Table 12 Change in the market share of mobile subscribers by operator 2013 - 2019
Table 13 Annual change in the number of mobile subscribers by operator 2015 2019
Table 14 Increase in the number of Jazz's mobile subscribers 2010 - 2020
Table 15 Development of Jazz's financial data ($ million) 2010 - 2020
Table 16 Development of Jazz's financial data (PKR billion) 2012 - 2020
Table 17 Development of Jazz's mobile ARPU 2010 - 2020
Table 18 Change in the number of Ufone's mobile subscribers 2010 2020
Table 19 Growth in the number of Telenor Pakistan's mobile subscribers 2010 2020
Table 20 Development of Telenor Pakistan's mobile ARPU 2010 2020
Table 21 Development of Telenor Pakistan's financial data 2010 2020
Table 22 Growth in the number of Zong's mobile subscribers 2010 2020
Table 23 Change in the number of fixed broadband subscribers and penetration 2010 2025
Table 24 Change in the number of fixed broadband subscribers by access type 2009 2020
Table 25 Change in the market share of fixed broadband subscribers by access type 2009 2020
Table 26 Annual change in the number of broadband subscribers by type 2010 2020
Table 27 Change in the number of cable broadband subscribers 2010 2020
Table 28 Change in the number of DSL broadband subscribers 2010 2020
Table 29 Growth in the number of fibre broadband subscribers 2010 2020
Table 30 Decline in the number of WiMAX subscribers 2010 2020
Table 31 Development of e-banking payment systems 2017 2019
Table 32 Fixed local line subscribers by minor operator 2018
Table 33 Fixed-line (WLL) subscribers by operator June 2018
Table 34 Development of PTCL's financial data 2013 - 2020
Table 35 Change in the number of PTCL's fixed line subscribers 2009 - 2018
Table 36 Development of WorldCall's financial data 2017 - 2019
Table 37 Decline in the number of fixed-lines in service and teledensity 2010 2025
Table 38 Increase in international internet bandwidth 2010 2018
Table 39 Historic - Telecom revenue (PKR million) by category - 2004 2009
Table 40 Telecom investment total and mobile - 2004 2009
Table 41 Historic - Mobile subscribers 1995 2005
Table 42 Historic - Telenor Pakistan mobile subscribers 2006 2009
Table 43 Historic fixed-line subscribers and penetration 1991 - 2006
Table 44 Historic - Instaphone (Pakcom) subscribers 2000 2010
Table 45 Historic - Internet Users and Penetration 2007 2016
Table 46 Historic - PTCL broadband subscribers 2007 2016
Table 47 Historic - Jazz mobile subscribers 2008 - 2009
Table 48 Historic - Warid Telecom subscribers 2005 2016
Table 49 Historic - Ufone mobile subscribers 2008 2009
Table 50 Historic - Zong mobile subscribers 2008 2009
Table 51 Historic - International internet bandwidth 2004 2009
Table 52 Historic - Cable modem subscribers 2008 2009
Table 53 Historic - DSL broadband subscribers 2005 2009
Table 54 Historic Fibre broadband subscribers 2007 2009
Table 55 Historic - WiMAX subscribers 2008 2009
Chart 1 Asian Telecoms Maturity Index by Market Category
Chart 2 Asian Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per capita
Chart 3 Telecoms Maturity Index Central Asia
Chart 4 - Development of telecom revenue (PKR billion) by category - 2010 2019
Chart 5 - Development of telecom investment by type ($ million) - 2010 2019
Chart 6 - Development of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in telecoms 2008 2019
Chart 7 - Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration 2010 2025
Chart 8 Growth in the number of LTE subscribers by operator (million) 2016 - 2020
Chart 9 Change in the number of 3G subscribers by operator (million) 2015 - 2020
Chart 10 Growth in the number of mobile broadband subscribers and penetration 2010 2025
Chart 11 Change in the number of mobile subscribers by operator (million) 2013 2020
Chart 12 Change in the market share of mobile subscribers by operator 2013 - 2020
Chart 13 Increase in the number of Jazz's mobile subscribers 2010 - 2020
Chart 14 Development of Jazz's financial data ($ million) 2010 - 2020
Chart 15 Development of Jazz's financial data (PKR billion) 2012 - 2020
Chart 16 Change in the number of Ufone's mobile subscribers 2010 2020
Chart 17 Growth in the number of Telenor Pakistan's mobile subscribers 2010 2020
Chart 18 Development of Telenor Pakistan's mobile ARPU 2010 2020
Chart 19 Development of Telenor Pakistan's financial data (NOK million) 2010 2020
Chart 20 Growth in the number of Zong's mobile subscribers 2010 2020
Chart 21 Change in the number of fixed broadband subscribers and penetration 2010 2025
Chart 22 Change in the number of fixed broadband subscribers by access type 2009 2020
Chart 23 Change in the number of fixed broadband subscribers by access type 2009 2020
Chart 24 Annual change in the number of broadband subscribers by type 2010 2020
Chart 25 Change in the number of cable broadband subscribers 2010 2020
Chart 26 Change in the number of DSL broadband subscribers 2010 2020
Chart 27 Change in the number of fibre broadband subscribers 2010 2020
Chart 28 Decline in the number of WiMAX subscribers 2010 2020
Chart 29 Development of PTCL's financial data (PKR million) 2013 - 2020
Chart 30 Change in the number of PTCL's fixed line subscribers 2009 - 2018
Chart 31 - Decline in the number of fixed-lines in service and teledensity 2010 2025
Exhibit 1 Key market characteristics by market segment
Exhibit 2 Central Asia -Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country
Mobile operators in Pakistan have started to shift their focus to value-added services as slowing subscriber growth starts to impact. The operators have therefore been especially keen to see the issuing of 3G licences. The government had started a process to assign these licences back in 2007. By late 2013 however there had been no licences issued. Delay after delay had occurred, much of which had not been properly explained by the authorities.
In the meantime, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) was without a chairman and key board members. A local court had found that the initial appointment of the chairman did not follow established procedures for an openly advertised role and the incumbent was removed from the position. The situation that evolved where the regulatory authority was unable to act on a range of issues was nothing short of chaotic.
The 3G fiasco combined with the PTA leadership problem presented an ominous cloud over an otherwise energetic telecom sector in Pakistan.
The progressive implementation of the Pakistan government’s reform plans over a number of years has triggered a period of strong growth in the local telecom market. Up until recently the energy and growth was predominantly in mobile services; as the mobile market moderates, the focus has shifted to broadband access in its various forms. In the meantime, there has been no significant activity in fixed-line services as originally intended and in fact subscriptions in this sector are in decline.
Earlier on Pakistan’s telecom market struggled with the transition from a regulated state-owned monopoly to a deregulated and competitive environment. The government initially focused on fixed lines setting out ambitious plans to increase fixed-line teledensity. After peaking at around 4% in 2008, fixed penetration had fallen to 3.5% coming into 2012. And, at the same time, the majority of these fixed lines were in urban areas. A more balanced distribution is certainly desirable in the longer term as 70% of Pakistan’s population lives in rural areas. Some good news in the fixed-line market came with the arrival of Wireless Local Loop (WLL) services and the licensing of a multitude of WLL operators. This technology has helped sustain what there is of a fixed-line segment. WLL services constituted around half of the total fixed-line subscriber base by 2012.
Meanwhile, the focus of the market changed; the whole telecom landscape in Pakistan having shifted to mobile services with a phenomenal expansion occurring in this sector from 2005/2006 onwards. The number of mobile subscribers jumped from less than two million to 100 million in just eight years. Interestingly, despite the significant tightening of the national economy during 2009 the mobile market continued to expand at an annual rate of between 5% and 10%. The mobile networks were already covering well in excess of 90% of the population and this coverage was continuing to be expanded.
While mobile penetration was strong and continuing on its positive growth path, internet penetration remained at relatively low levels coming into 2012. Broadband growth had been of particular concern with almost negligible growth for many years; finally, 2008/09 saw a promising upsurge in broadband subscriptions and this fresh growth pattern growth looked to be continuing, boosted by the spread of competition throughout the market and the increased adoption of wireless broadband solutions. Broadband penetration remained relatively low, however, still sitting below 2%.
Control of internet content remained a big issue in Pakistan. The government has directed that the monitoring of websites for ‘anti-Islam content’ be undertaken by the PTA, the telecom regulator. By 2012, amid growing concern about greater restrictions on internet access in the country, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HCRP), an independent body, said that already about 13,000 sites were inaccessible. The regulator said that the figure was closer to 2,000 sites. By 2013 the censorship of the internet by the government was becoming more intense.