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Pakistan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 7 Sep 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 137

Analyst: Sebastien De Rosbo

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.

Key Developments

  • 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.

Key companies mentioned in this report:

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

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