2009 Pakistan - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts

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Last updated: 29 Sep 2009 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 112

Analyst: Stephen McNamara

Publication Overview

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.


Researcher:- Peter Evans

Current publication date:- September 2009 (15th Edition)

Next publication date:- December 2010

Executive Summary

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



2009 (e)

Fixed-line services:

·         Total subscribers (million)



·         Annual growth



·         Fixed-line penetration (population)



·         Fixed-line penetration (household)




·         Total subscribers (million)



·         Annual growth



·         Internet subscriber penetration (population)



Mobile services:

·         Total subscribers (million)



·         Annual growth



·         Mobile penetration (population)



(Source: BuddeComm)


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

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