Pakistan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Publication Overview

This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Pakistan’s telecommunications market. The report analyses the Telecoms Infrastructure, mobile, fixed broadband, Digital Media and Digital Economy sectors. Subjects include:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Regional market comparisons
  • Telecoms Maturity Index
  • Data centres and smart Infrastructure;
  • Major players, revenues, subscribers, ARPU;
  • Broadband (FTTH, DSL);
  • Internet of Things, 5G developments
  • Mobile, broadband and mobile broadband forecasts to 2023-4.

Researcher:- Phil Harpur
Current publication date:- October 2019 (25th Edition)

Executive Summary

5G trials have begun in Pakistan

Pakistan’s telecom market had been struggling for a long time with the transition from a regulated state-owned monopoly to a deregulated competitive structure. Foreign investment has been an important factor in Pakistan’s telecom sector.

Despite the government’s promotion of internet and expansion of universal internet access throughout the nation over the past decade, internet penetration has remained relatively low in global terms.

The fixed line market in Pakistan remains underdeveloped due to the dominance of the mobile segment. Further, the number of fixed telephone lines is slowly declining as the mobile segment continues to expand. The market is predicted to decline further over the next five years to 2024 as the mobile segment continues to grow for both voice and data/broadband usage.

Like in many countries in Asia, both businesses and government agencies in Pakistan are opening up to the benefits of third party data centres for both public, private and hybrid cloud deployments. Data centres are established in Pakistan’s three largest cities of Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. Telcos with data centres include: Telenor, Zong, Ufone. Major data centre clients include web hosting service providers, banks and other financial institutions. The major global social media platforms such as Facebook have some presence in Pakistan’s data centres.

The struggling fixed-line market in Pakistan is dominated by Pakistan Telecommunications Company Ltd (PTCL). The only other provider with a significant customer base is NTC.

Examples of IoT applications in Pakistan are solar-powered home services enabling rural households outside of the grid to power TV sets, mobile phone chargers and other electronic devices. Mobile operator Zong launched the ‘Zong 4G Smart Car’ solution in Islamabad.

Despite the efforts of the government to stimulate growth in the internet segment of the telecommunications market, for a long period it has remained a fairly sluggish component of Pakistan’s overall telecoms sector. The data and internet service sector has been opened up for private operators to invest and operate services in the country.

Fixed broadband penetration in Pakistan remains very low mainly due to the dominance of the mobile platform. Also, the limited and declining number of fixed lines in Pakistan is restricting more widespread development of fixed broadband. Penetration increased from 0.4% in 2010 to 1.9% in 2014, but then dropped 1.0% in 2019. Over the next five years to 2024 low growth is expected from this small base.

DSL dominates the fixed broadband market. Its market share has been falling over the past five years. HFC and FTTH have seen rising numbers, however each still constitute for a very low market share of the overall fixed broadband market.

The Universal Service Fund (USF) and Ufone signed a contract for a project of seamless broadband coverage on the Makran Coastal Highway. It is the first scheme under the Next Generation Broadband for Sustainable Development program with focus on broadband coverage in order to allow seamless operations.

Pakistan’s mobile market has experienced moderate growth over the last six years. Mobile growth opportunities in Pakistan have been very substantial due to a young population and rising penetration of mobile services. Slow to moderate growth is predicted over the next five years to 2024. The market will be constrained from higher growth due to very strong local competition.

The country’s mobile operators are all fighting for a larger share of the market, forcing down prices and subsequently Average Revenue Per Unit (ARPU). The operators have been shifting their focus to Value Added Services (VAS) in order to improve revenues.

Mobilink and Warid merged their operations into a single brand, Jazz, which saw the number of mobile operators reduce from six to five. Further market consolidation is predicted over the next five years as the operating margins of the major operators come under further pressure.

Pakistan has seen a dramatic increase in mobile broadband penetration over the past five years. However, the mobile broadband market is still at an early stage of development with penetration well below most other Asian countries. Strong growth is predicted over the next five years to 2024, driven by further adoption of 4G and eventually 5G services.

In 2019 the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) published guidelines for issuing temporary 5G authorisations to service providers, vendors and research organisations. Zong announced that it was the first MNO to successfully test 5G in Pakistan. It staged the trial at its headquarters in Islamabad, and generated download speeds in excess of 1Gbps.

Key Developments

  • Both businesses and government agencies in Pakistan are opening up to the benefits of third party data centres
  • The fixed line market is predicted to decline further over the next five years to 2024.
  • Fixed broadband penetration in Pakistan remains very low mainly due to the dominance of the mobile platform.
  • The Universal Service Fund (USF) and Ufone signed a contract for a project of seamless broadband coverage on the Makran Coastal Highway.
  • Pakistan has seen a very strong increase in mobile broadband penetration over the past five years.
  • Pakistan’s MoIT is aiming to introduce commercial 5G services before 2020.

Key companies mentioned in this report:

Pakistan Telecommunication Co Ltd (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 Corp (NTC), Instaphone

Phil Harpur
October 2019

Table of Contents

  • Key statistics

    • Country overview
  • Telecommunications market

    • Market overview and analysis
    • Regional Asian Market Comparison
    • Revenue and investment levels
    • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
  • Regulatory environment

    • Overview
    • Regulatory authorities
      • Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT)
      • Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA)
      • National Telecommunications Corp (NTC)
    • Access
  • Fixed network operators

    • Fixed network subscribers by operator
    • Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL)
    • WorldCall group
    • TeleCard
    • Wateen Telecom
  • Telecommunications infrastructure

    • Overview of the national telecom network
    • Fixed line statistics
    • Fibre networks
    • International infrastructure
      • Satellite networks
      • Submarine cable networks
      • International gateways
      • International fibre optic links
    • Data centres
      • Overview
      • Challenges
      • Providers
    • Smart infrastructure
      • Internet of Things (IoT)
      • Smart cities
      • Smart grids
  • Broadband market

    • Introduction and statistical overview
      • Market overview and analysis
      • Broadband statistics and market forecast
      • Government broadband projects
    • Fixed broadband service providers
      • Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL)
      • Stormfiber
    • Fixed broadband technologies
      • Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) Networks
      • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Networks
      • Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH)
      • Fixed wireless
      • Other fixed broadband services
  • Digital economy

    • e-Commerce
      • Overview
    • e-Government
    • e-Education
  • Digital media

    • Broadcasting
    • Videostreaming
    • VOIP
  • Mobile communications

    • Market overview and analysis
    • Mobile statistics
      • Market statistics and market forecast
      • Mobile broadband statistics and Market Forecast
    • Regulatory issues
      • Spectrum Auctions – 2014 - 2017
      • Mobile Termination Rates
      • Other Developments
    • Mobile infrastructure
      • 5G
    • Major mobile operators
      • Statistics by operator
      • PMCL (Jazz)
      • Ufone (PTCL)
      • Telenor Pakistan
      • Zong
      • Special Communication Organisation (SCO)
      • Historic - Instaphone (Pakcom)
      • MVNOs
    • Mobile content and applications
      • m-commerce / m-banking
  • Appendix – Historic data


List of Tables

  • Table 1 – Country Statistics, Major Operators and Telco Authorities – 2019 (e)
  • Table 2 – Top Level Country Statistics – 2019 (e)
  • Table 3 – Pakistan’s telecom revenues (PKR million) by category –- 2004 – 2018
  • Table 4 –Pakistan’s telecom investment – total and mobile - 2004 – 2018
  • Table 5 – Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in telecom sector – 2008 – 2018
  • Table 6 – Fixed local line subscribers by operator– 2018
  • Table 7 – Fixed-line (WLL) subscribers by operator – 2018
  • Table 8 – Historic - PTCL fixed-line subscribers – 2008 – 2017
  • Table 9 – Historic – fixed-line subscribers and penetration – 1991 - 2006
  • Table 10 – Fixed Line Subscriptions and Penetration – 2009 – 2024
  • Table 11 – Fixed Broadband Subscribers (with Forecast) – 2009 – 2024
  • Table 12 – Fixed Broadband subscribers by access type – 2009 – 2019
  • Table 13 – Fixed Broadband subscribers by access type – 2009 – 2019
  • Table 14 – Fixed Broadband subscribers market share by access type – 2009 – 2019
  • Table 15 – Fixed Broadband subscribers annual change by access type – 2010 – 2019
  • Table 16 – Total international internet bandwidth – 2004 – 2018
  • Table 17 – Lit/Equipped International Bandwidth Capacity – 2013 – 2018
  • Table 18 – Internet Users and Penetration – 2007 – 2018
  • Table 19 – Historic - PTCL broadband subscribers – 2007 – 2016
  • Table 20 – Cable modem subscribers – 2008 – 2019
  • Table 21 – DSL broadband subscribers – 2005 – 2019
  • Table 22 – FTTH subscribers – 2007 – 2019
  • Table 23 – WiMAX subscribers – 2008 – 2019
  • Table 24 – Percentage of Population Covered by Type of Mobile Network
  • Table 25 – Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 – 2024
  • Table 26 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 – 2024
  • Table 27 – Mobile subscribers (millions) by operator – 2013 – 2019
  • Table 28 – Mobile subscriber market share by operator – 2013 - 2019
  • Table 29 –Mobile subscribers by operator, annual change – 2014 – 2019
  • Table 30 – Mobile subscribers (millions) by operator and 3G, 4G - 2018
  • Table 31 – PCML (Jazz) mobile subscribers – 2008 - 2019
  • Table 32 – Historic - Warid Telecom subscribers – 2005 – 2016
  • Table 33 – Ufone (PTCL) subscribers – 2008 – 2019
  • Table 34 – Telenor Pakistan subscribers – 2008 – 2019
  • Table 35 – CMPak (Zong) mobile subscribers – 2008 – 2019
  • Table 36 – Historic - Instaphone (Pakcom) subscribers – 2000 – 2010
  • Table 37 – Historic - mobile subscribers – 1995 – 2005

List of Charts

  • Chart 1 – Mobile, Mobile Broadband & Fixed Broadband Penetration – 2019; 2024
  • Chart 2 – Asian Telecoms Maturity Index by Market Category
  • Chart 3 – Asian Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita
  • Chart 4 – Telecoms Maturity Index – Central Asia
  • Chart 5 - Fixed Line Subscriptions and Penetration – 2009 – 2024
  • Chart 6 – Fixed Broadband Subscribers (with Forecast) - 2009 – 2024
  • Chart 7 - Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 – 2024
  • Chart 8 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 – 2024

List of Exhibits

  • Exhibit 1 – Key Market Characteristics by Market Segment
  • Exhibit 2 – Central Asia -Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country

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