Monday, January 21, 2008

Pakistan's Telecom Boom Continues

Telecom sector is attracting the largest share of foreign direct investment in Pakistan. Foreign investors pumped in $364m into it during July-Sept 2007 quarter, according to the latest figures released by Pakistan Telecommunications Authority. The total FDI in Pakistan for this 3-month period was $962.5m.
The number of cellular subscribers in Pakistan has crossed 76m in Dec, 2007, from 500,000 in 2004. According to Business Recorder, Pakistan's financial daily, most forecasters believe that the upward trend will continue in the next 5 years because of the huge market potential, particularly in the rural areas where the build-out has yet to happen. Operators such as Wateen (with Motorola) are planning a large Wimax roll-out to improve voice and high bandwidth data access across the country. The biggest mobile operators in Pakistan include Mobilink with 30m subscribers, Ufone with 16m, Telenor with 14m, Warid with 13m and Paktel with 1m.
It must be noted that FDI is different from stock market investments. FDI money goes to build factories, infrastructure and facilities rather than the purchase of financial assets such as stocks and bonds by mutual funds.
According to Pakistan's Daily Times, Pakistan’ telecom boom has created more than 300,000 jobs in the telecom sector. This has resulted in huge demand for professional and capable telecom workforce that can expertly meet the new age requirements of these positions. Creative public private partnerships are being established to meet this demand.



Thanks to Pakistanis' rising incomes, which have more than doubled to over US$900 per year in the last seven years, and increased competition, the teledensity rate is expected to go over 50 percent in the next couple of years, according to officials and analysts. Opportunities such as these are fueling the continuing growth in the middle class which further enhances the ongoing consumer boom. By various estimates, the Pakistani middle class has now grown to over 30m people, about 20% of the total population. The size of this middle class makes Pakistan an attractive opportunity for investors, in spite of the continuing political uncertainty with the approaching elections in February, 2008. Analysts such as Merrill Lynch's Chief Market strategist Mark Matthews are very bullish on Pakistan. Matthews has called Pakistan a "safe haven" for investors as recently as Jan 6, 2008 in an interview with CNBC.

Related Link:

State of Telecom Industry in Pakistan

Online Political Activism in Pakistan

48 comments:

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Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Telecom Report by Budde.com


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
Category 2008 2009 (e)
Fixed-line services:
• Total subscribers (million) 6.2 6.5
• Annual growth -7% 5%
• Fixed-line penetration (population) 3.8% 4.0%
• Fixed-line penetration (household) 23% 23%
Internet:
• Total subscribers (million) 3.7 4.0
• Annual growth 6% 8%
• Internet subscriber penetration (population) 2% 2%
Mobile services:
• Total subscribers (million) 90.0 99.0
• Annual growth 17% 10%
• Mobile penetration (population) 56% 60%
(Source: BuddeComm)

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a recent blog post by Babar Bhatti about mobile financial services in Pakistan:

In Pakistan, the widespread infrastructure of mobile operators provides them strong advantages to serve as an important link in the financial services value chain. As we have seen in Pakistan, banks and mobile operators have partnered up to start MFS. This generated a wave of marketing activity (see these commercials) which also extended to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, highlighting the competition among mobile network operators.

One may ask why did it take so long for MFS to start in Pakistan? Well, unlike entrainment or information services, financial and commerce related services require coordination of multiple institutes and approval of government regulatory agencies. Security, accuracy and establishment of trust of users is also very important.

Easypaisa. An example of this is ‘easypaisa’ from Telenor Pakistan and Tameer Microfinance Bank. Interesting thing about this service is that money can be sent and received without a mobile phone. However, using a mobile phone provides convenience as confirmations are sent as sms. Any person with a valid Nadra CNIC can send money or receive money. Sending/Receiving can be done from more than 4,000 easypaisa shops all over Pakistan. The transaction is encrypted and the process has been approved by the State Bank of Pakistan. Details on how this works are available at easypaisa website and on YouTube.

Regardless of one’s opinion on the convenience and the fees, one must admit that introduction of MFS such as easypaisa changes the status quo for payments which has been around till now in Pakistan.

Telenor is not the only company with plans for mobile financial services. Ufone started premium banking service for customers of Ufone who have account with one its partner banks. This is a different approach where an application on the handset allows eligible customers to carry out financial and non-financial transactions. Mobilink, the largest cellular company by subscribers, is also gearing up for MFS. In July, Orascom announced its plans for MFS:

Mobilink and Citibank will utilize Mobilink’s extensive retail infrastructure to extend the reach of financial services to the previously un-served masses. Using Mobilink’s cutting edge technology, Mobilink users will be able to open branchless bank accounts through a simple and convenient registration process via authorized agents across the country. The service will allow users to maintain their accounts through their phones and make secure peer to peer money transfers to any Mobilink number simply via SMS.

At telecompk.net we have extensively covered the potential, opportunities and market size of MFS.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on Wi-tribe's broadband launch in Pakistan:

Wi-tribe, a wireless internet provider backed by Qatar’s Qtel Group, has launched a wireless broadband service in Pakistan. The deployment, which uses WiMAX technology from Motorola, covers major cities of Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, and Rawalpindi.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani, chairman of Qtel Group, said the launch, which is Wi-tribe’s biggest project to date, marks an important stage in the company’s aim to become a top 20 telecom player by 2020.

“Following our launch in Jordan, Pakistan marks a major stepping stone towards our expansion strategy and our intention to leverage the scale and strengths of the Qtel Group in order to deliver the latest technologies to our customers,” he said.

Dr Nasser Marafih, CEO Qtel, added that broadband represents a “major pillar of growth” for the company, particularly in markets which have low broadband penetration rates, such as Jordan and Pakistan.

“Broadband penetration levels in new emerging markets are currently very low compared to markets in the region. However, consumer demand for wireless services is growing at a fast pace. So we will continue to focus on this area in the future as we see good business opportunity and significant growth potential,” he said.

While Pakistan already has about 50 ISPs, services are limited outside metropolitan areas. Access to high speed broadband and mobile broadband is also limited.

As of February 2008, Pakistan had about 100,000 broadband users, although the government has set itself a target to increase this number to 1.6 million by 2010.

Qtel entered Pakistan in April 2007 when it acquired a 75% stake in wireless telecoms operator Burraq Telecom, in a joint deal with and Saudi Arabia's A.A. Turki for Trading and Contracting.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on fiber network deployment in Pakistan:

Ranking as the world’s 6th largest, Pakistan has a population of 165 million, an urban ratio of 32.5% and average household size of 6.8 people. This represents a huge market for FTTX (Fibre-To-The-Home/Premise/Business). Cities like Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore are having strong demand for high speed fibre broadband from the government, financial and other commercial sectors.

The huge infrastructures of fibre network in Pakistan are expanding in full swing. Mobilink, TWA, Nayatel, Multinet, Wateen Telecom, Brain Tel and PTCL are active in fibre network advancement. Mobilink is having a fibre optic backbone of 8,500 km. TWA, a submarine fibre optic cable operator, specializing in end-to-end international connectivity, also constructed backbone fibre for Mobilink for domestic connectivity. Nayatel had introduced Pakistan’s first Fibre-To-The-User (FTTU) network with advanced Next Generation Network (NGN) capability, offering data, voice and multimedia services in Islamabad. Multinet with over 4,500 km DWDM backbone is connecting fibre to 107 cities in Pakistan up to 100mbps. Wateen laid 5,500 km backbone network and Metro Rings providing Triple Play (Data, Voice, Video) services in most major cities. Brain Tel offers Quadplay (Data, Voice, Video & Surveillance) in Lahore. PTCL started an exclusive FTTC (Fibre-To-The-Curb) phone connections last year.

“It is an important transformation, you can see great progress every day. In Pakistan, fibre is replacing copper to achieve high speed for Triple Play or Quadplay. You can imagine how promising fibre broadband is. Our partnership with Aspen Optics is a good news to both our carrier and enterprise customers”, said Malik Naseer Ahmad, Managing Director of Digital Solution.

Digital Solution will start to distribute the full product range of Aspen Optics including MetroBlazer™ media converters, concentrators, distribution & CPE switches as well as Geebic SFP, GBIC, Xenpak, 10GE X2 and XFP.

“We are excited to see this great opportunity, to participate in such a big market growing so fast. In alliance with Digital Solution as our distributor, we are eager to make contribution to the industry by offering innovative products to help customers in Pakistan enjoy the best out of fibre connection”, said David Whitney, Managing Director of Aspen Optics.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Babar Bhatti's report on broadband deployment in Pakistan:

When compared with cellular phone growth, Broadband has been slow to take off in Pakistan. However the last two years show some progress in terms of growth (a little over 20K subscribers per month), more choices of services in more places and most importantly a significant drop in cost for broadband access (~Rs.1200 per month on average). Another welcome trend is to move towards unlimited broadband.

PTCL has taken the lead with its DSL and EVO offerings while WorldCall, Mobilink Infinity, Wateen / WiMAX, Qubee, NayaTel and Wi-Tribe have also offered their services.

According to PTA, “broadband subscriber base grew by 146% adding 245,727 subscribers during July 2008 – June 2009, while broadband connection charges for 1Mbps connection dropped below Rs. 1000. There were 413,809 Broadband subscribers in June 2009 as compared to 168,082 in June of 2008.”

At the current rate of broadband growth we can cross the half-million mark by December 2009. We need to get to 1 million much faster.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a novel use of cell phones in Pakistan to improve literacy:

A literacy programme delivered through the mobile phone to disadvantaged female learners in Punjab showed improved literacy skills.

The five-month programme, initiated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), targeted 250 females aged 15 to 24 years old in three districts.

Pakistan, with half its population illiterate, is the fourth largest contributor to the world illiterate population. The literacy rate for males is 63 per cent, compared to only 36 per cent for females, making the country with one of the widest gap in this region.

One of the main challenges in promoting literacy in the country is the lack of interest, Ichiro Miyazawa of UNESCO Islamabad, told FutureGov. “Many youths, after attending the basic literacy course, often relapse into illiteracy because the available reading materials are either too difficult or not interesting enough.”

In this pilot project which ended last month, these learners who have just completed the basic literacy course, were given a mobile phone each. They receive three text messages a day in the local language. They are required to practise reading and writing the messages in their work book and reply to their teachers by text.

Monthly assessments held at the learning centres showed improvement in literacy skills. While results varied in the three districts – Lahore, Sialkot and Hafizabad – learners who scored C reduced from an average of 52 per cent to 12 per cent.

UNESCO invested US$57 per learner to run this trial programme. Miyazawa expected that cost could be lowered to US$33 if the mobile phones were reused by at least three learners.

“We want the programme to be sustainable. If the learner wishes to continue after completing the programme, he or she can pay US$6 to keep the phone and continue receiving the messages,” he added.

While it will take some time to create awareness and gain acceptance, Miyazawa is confident that the benefits will quickly win the population. “56 per cent of learners and their family members were initially negative about the programme. The parents, in particularly, disapproved of their children carrying mobile phones and doubted that the phones would be used for learning. However, 87 per cent of them were satisfied with the effectiveness of the programme at the end.”

wakee said...

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Riaz Haq said...

Here's recent news on Pakistan's telecom sector expansion, as reported in Daily Times:

Despite inching towards a saturation stage, the telecom sector received $1.438 billion in year 2008 and $815 million in the following year - 2009 as FDI in different projects in the ministry and its attached departments.

The total Internet users of the country rose to 19 million with total broadband users rising to 413,809 million. Total direct and indirect jobs in the telecom sector are 1.36 million.

During the past two years, the total phone lines increased from 94.695 million to 103.801 million with mobile lines increasing from 88.019 million to 97.58 million, almost 59.6 percent upward slide, while the fixed lines declined from 4.416 million to 3.526 million, almost 2.2 percent downward slide. The democratic government, after taking over in February 2008, came forward with policy reforms and policy directives for the telecom sector for year 2010.

---------------------

Pakistan Telecommuni-cation Authority (PTA) Chairman Dr Mohammad Yasin opined that Pakistan’s telecommunication sector was growing faster, even more rapidly than that of India with over 63 percent teledensity, encouraging the FDI.

“Look, India is lagging far behind Pakistan with 37 percent teledensity as compared to 63.5 percent in Pakistan. Pakistan’s FDI policy is much more liberal than that of India to attract more investment in Pakistan’s telecom sector,” he added.

The PTA chief was of the view that the ever-growing teledensity of Pakistan is unleashing new vistas of opportunities to the foreign and local investors for better returns, especially in the field of data services.

“Services like mobile Internet, mobile banking and Internet Protocol Television hold fortunes for any wise investor,” he added.

The Telecom analysts around the world still believe in Pakistan to be a lucrative market and business monitor forecasts that mobile subscribers in Pakistan would hit 100-million mark by next year.

The sector has been growing at a rapid pace where growth rates have become the hallmark. Although a bit slower growth, of only 7 percent, was observed in mobile sector last year, this trend cannot be attributed only to saturation as there are factors like international financial crisis, devaluation of rupee, security situation and re-registration of SIM programme.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the latest BMI research report on Pakistan's Telecom market:

BMI forecasts that the mobile sector will achieve a total of 98.558mn subscribers at the end of 2009, after the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) and operators reported a total of 95.909mn subscribers in the market as of September 2009. Between YE08 and September 2009, the number of net additions totalled 6.002mn, which was significantly lower than the 13.339mn net additions in the YE07 to September 2008 period. Much of the difference is related to the government’s re-registration programme, as well as taxation on operators.
With the re-registration programme over, and operators involved in rebuilding their subscriber bases, BMI views growth of the mobile sector to continue over the next five years ended 2014. Operators such as Mobilink have focused their efforts on acquiring new subscribers, retaining the loyalty of existing subscribers, while also strengthening their brand image through key campaigns carried out during Independence Day and Eid. Second-ranked Telenor, which managed to overtake Ufone in Q209 and having previously been overtaken by the PTCL-owned mobile unit in Q308, has deployed attractive services such as its mobile banking, ‘easypaisa’, to encourage customers to its network.
The government has also reviewed the taxation policies in place on the mobile sector, and from which it gains a substantial chunk of its foreign direct investment (FDI) from. By strangling operators with higher taxes, it came to the realisation that neither operators, customers or the government would benefit. As of July 1 2009, the government reduced federal excise duty on mobile usage to 19.5% from 21%, as well as reduced the new SIM activation tax from PKR500 to PKR250. This is certainly good news and should help to build up the sector.
Furthermore, we have also noted that the PTA has sought to introduce MVNOs to the market. The licence fees have been set at US$5mn each. There appears to be little interest so far, given that there are no fewer than six operators, with competition between them particularly aggressive. Indeed, press reports report rumours of consolidation in the market, pointing to Telenor as a potential purchaser of Warid Telecom, although the Norwegian operator has denied the comments. It is not the first time, however, that talk of consolidation has occurred in the sector.
Meanwhile, we continue to witness the encouraging growth of the broadband market in Pakistan, breaking the half a million barrier in September 2009. This is being largely driven by the WiMAX technology, which has been rising at a faster rate than DSL, FTTH or EV-DO. With two-thirds of the Pakistani population residing in rural areas where there is a shortage of fixed lines, the need for wireless alternatives is clearly on the rise. In view of this, the government should accelerate the award of 3G licences, which had been expected in 2009, but is now expected in 2010.

Riaz Haq said...

According to the World Economic Forum's Global IT Report 2010, Pakistan has jumped 11 places to 87 from 98 on a list of 133 economies.

Here's how Telecomnewspk.com reports it:

“It is evident that technology is playing a leading role in accelerating economic growth and promoting development,” said Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) Chief Executive Officer Arthur Bayhan. CSF, a partner institute of WEF, is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Finance, government of Pakistan and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), established to reposition Pakistan’s economy on a more competitive global footing.

Bayhan pointed out that CSF has carried out a policy action plan in 2008-09 to mobilise a dialogue across the telecommunication value chain to define the challenges that confront Pakistan’s telecom and IT industry and to address these challenges. The exercise resulted in an action agenda to tackle constraints and better position the ICT sector in Pakistan to take advantage of opportunities for growth.

“Now within 18 months of the exercise, many of the suggested initiatives and recommendations have taken effect so as to reshape the telecom industry in the most efficient and effective manner. CSF believes that through this focused initiative it has helped transform the Pakistan telecom domain,” Bayhan said.

Published for the ninth consecutive year with an extensive coverage of 133 economies worldwide, the Global IT Report remains the world’s most comprehensive and authoritative international assessment of the impact of ICT on the development process and the competitiveness of nations.

Pakistan has fared particularly well in the sub-indexes of Individual Readiness – mobile cellular tariffs (8) and residential telephone connection charge (11) while under the sub-index of Business Readiness the country does good in business telephone connection charge (15) and business monthly telephone subscription (17).

A marked improvement has been seen in Pakistan’s capacity for innovation, which has gone up from 73 last year, to 56 this time but it still requires further improvement. There have been slight improvements in quality of educational systems, up from 104 last year to 99, internet access in schools improving by six places to 75 and company spending on R&D getting better by six places to stand at 80. One of the recommendations put forward by CSF in the action plan was that the telecom operators in Pakistan adopt strategies for creating a conducive and competitive infrastructure cost sharing environment. Accordingly, major cellular operators of the country have signed agreements to get involved in infrastructure cost sharing thereby reducing infrastructure duplication and costs, noted Bayhan. CSF also recommended amplifying the bundled offers like voice and SMS with value-added services like MMS, Mobile TV, Mobile Banking, GPRS etc.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from Pakistan's consumer electronics market report:

Pakistan’s consumer electronics market, defined as the addressable market for computing devices, mobile handsets and AV products, is projected to be worth around US$1.6bn in 2010. Underlying demand will grow at a CAGR of about 7%, but spending will be restrained by a sizable grey market of smuggled or illegally assembled products.
The market’s considerable potential is currently depressed by a large grey market, poor IP protection, an unstable economic and security situation and weak distribution channels. Growth will be driven, however, by improved ICT infrastructure, and more credit availability. Reform of often high national and provincial taxes and tariffs on products ranging from computers to prepaid mobile cards would also boost the market.
Computer Computers accounted for around 18% of Pakistan’s consumer electronics spending in 2009. BMI forecasts Pakistan’s domestic market computer sales (including notebooks and accessories) of US$283mn in 2010, up from US$264mn in 2009. Computer hardware CAGR for the 2010- 2014 period will be around 7%. The abolition in September 2009 of a minimum sales tax on imported computers should boost the market.
AV AV devices accounted for around 40% of Pakistan’s consumer electronics spending in 2008. Pakistan’s domestic AV device market is projected at US$632mn in 2010. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11% between 2010-2014, to a value of US$946mn in 2014. TV sets remain the core product in this category, but the growing availability of smuggled colour televisions is a market inhibitor.
Mobile Handsets Pakistan’s market handset sales are expected to grow at a CAGR of 1% to 18.8mn units in 2014, as mobile subscriber penetration reaches 91%. Revenue growth will be slower due to lower average selling prices (ASPs) of mobile handsets, with most handsets sold at a under US$40 price-point. Another issue is a declining growth rate of mobile subscriber penetration, which is now above 60%.

Riaz Haq said...

Huma Yusuf blogs for Pakistan's Dawn.com site in Karachi and is a close watcher of new media in Pakistan. She says that in her country, new media has spawned a pithy brand of citizen journalism. The reason: “unlike Indians, we feel like we’re in a state of war”.

She says that during the Pakistan Emergency of 2006-7, Pakistan’s online population grew from 2.5 million to 18 million.

Click here for an MIT media labs paper she published on activism by Pakistan's online population.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report estimating Pakistan's ICT industry at $12 billion in Pakistan:

KARACHI (APP) - The overall size of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in Pakistan has crossed more than $ 12 billion, of which $ 1 billion is foreign direct investment (FDI).
This was stated by the Advisor to PM on Information Technology Sardar Latif Khan Khosa while speaking at the inauguration of 5th Information & Communications Technology Exhibition and Conference - CONNECT 2010 at Karachi Expo Centre here Saturday.
He said Pakistan has one of the fastest growing the tele-density in the world, accelerating at a rate of 63.5 percent, while the neighbouring India is just 37 percent.
Khosa said there are more than 95 million mobile connections in the country and are still growing in numbers. This is exponential growth as mobile telephone market has seen a 14-fold increase since the year 2000, he added.
He said this signifies the importance of ICT sector and the further potential it holds for country’s economy.
He said CONNECT brings to Pakistan a focused event in the dynamic fields of IT and telecom and provides a unique platform to the companies to showcase their products and services.
The Advisor called upon IT professional to reach out entire Pakistan and spread IT in every nook and corner so that the people can take benefit of this dynamic technology.
He also supported the idea for a greater cooperation and interaction between the government, industry and academia to get maximum benefits of information technology. The Advisor pointed out PPP provides a platform for the promotion of IT in the country under its manifesto which envisages support for right of information to the people. This is the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto for IT and other sectors, he added. Later, taking to media, Sardar Khosa said the government has again invited foreign IT companies to restart their business in Khyber-Pukhtunkhawa and Balochistan.
I have asked these companies to identify the quantum of damage to their infrastructure in Khyber-Pukhtunkhawa area due to on-going war on terror. They are also seeking a price differential for broad band expansion, but we have asked them to first start rehabilitation of their infrastructure and we have assured them to look into their demands.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's IEMR research report forecasting 135 million mobile phone subscribers in Pakistan by 2014:

(M2 PressWIRE Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Vancouver, -- IE Market Research Corp. (IEMR), the Canadian-based provider of market intelligence services, announced today the release of its 1Q.2010 Pakistan Mobile Operator Forecast, 2009 - 2014.

"The wireless penetration rate is still low in Pakistan at approximately 60% in 2009, and we expect that the country's wireless market will continue to show strong growth. Our model forecasts that total mobile subscribers in Pakistan will increase from 96 million in 2009 to 134.8 million in 2014," said Nizar Assanie, Vice President (Research) at IEMR. "Mobilink will continue to be the largest player in Pakistan's mobile operator space over the next five years. We expect that Mobilink will have 36 million mobile subscribers in 2014. Also, given the latest quarter numbers, our model predicts that Ufone will have 25.8 million, Telenor will have 29 million, and Warid will have 25.3 million mobile subscribers by the end of 2014." "ARPU levels remain low in Pakistan's mobile operator space. We expect that the industry average ARPU will remain in the range of US$ 2 - US$ 3 over the next five years. Our model predicts that, in 2014, Mobilink's monthly ARPU will be at highest among operators at US$ 2.64. The operator with the lowest monthly ARPU will be Warid Telecom with US$ 1.67 in 2014," said Mr. Assanie.

IEMR's Pakistan Mobile Operator Forecast covers up to 50 financial and operational metrics on wireless operators in Pakistan - Mobilink (Pakistan Mobile Communications Limited), Ufone GSM, China Mobile Ltd. (Zong, formerly Paktel), Instaphone, Telenor ASA, and Warid Telecom International. Notable highlights of the 1Q10 Pakistan Mobile Operator Forecast include: * In terms of shares of total subscribers, we expect that Mobilink's market share will decline over the next five years, from 30% in 2009 to 26.7% in 2014. On the other hand, we expect China Mobile Pakistan's market share to increase from 8% in 2009 to 13.7% in 2014. We also forecast that market shares at Ufone, Telenor, and Warid will be approximately 19.2%, 21.6% and 18.8% respectively in 2014.

* Given the excellent performance by Norway's Telenor in Pakistan's wireless market in the recent past, our model forecasts that its EBITDA margin (calculated as EBITDA / reported revenue) will be increasing from about 23% in 2009 to 35% in 2014. On the other hand, we think that Mobilink will maintain its EBITDA margin of approximately 35% over the forecast period, 2010 - 2014.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Business Recorder story about the launch of a new broadband company in Pakistan:

KARACHI (May 28 2010): Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Qubee, Mubashir Naqvi on Thursday announced the formal launch of Qubee broadband internet service in Pakistan. The Qubee service has begun in Karachi through its stores besides a network of local distributors, he said at press conference held at a local hotel. "The internet broadband growth has been forecast to reach about 4.3 million users by the end of 2013 in Pakistan at an unprecedented rate," he added.

Keeping in view the whole scenario, he said, there was a vast opportunity for wireless broadband providers to capitalise on the unexploited market in the country. Naqvi was of the view that the economic and social uplift of a country was altogether linked to the broadband access. Pakistan is amongst the most dynamic telecom economies in terms of internet growth, he cited the observation of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 2010.

With an initial investment of 70 million dollar in Pakistan, he said, Qubee was planning to seize the opportunity of huge untapped market, adding, "Qubee is responsible for the direct employment of over 120 people in Karachi, which is set to grow to 250 people by the end of the year."

Naqvi said that Qubee would also be available in Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi by the end of the current year to expand its network base across Pakistan over the next few years. CEO Qubee observed that the demand for internet connectivity had never been high in the country, saying that the new broadband service would go fully to satisfy its customers with reliable and undistorted download within a range of affordable packages.

With the brand name Qubee is a wireless broadband internet service provider of Augere Holdings Plc, in Pakistan. It offers connectivity through a technology called WiMax [World-wide Inter-operability for Microwave Access]. The minimum package is Rs 750 a month with 512 Kbps speed and six GB downloading capacity, while the internet gadget is offered to costumers free of cost. The other packages range between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 with different speed slabs and download capacity a month, he told Business Recorder earlier.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Bloomberg report on PTCL's broadband expansion plans in Pakistn:

May 6 (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan Telecommunication Co., the biggest phone service provider, plans to expand its network of Internet broadband users to over three million in five years, as it seeks to take back revenue from rivals, the chief executive officer said.

“Broadband has huge potential in Pakistan,” Walid Irshaid said in a call for investors from Islamabad today. “We plan to have a 70 percent share of the market in five years.”

Pakistan Telecom has lost business to competitors including Telenor Asa., and China Mobile Communications Ltd. since 2004 when the government gave licenses to non-state telephone companies to start business, ending its monopoly. Pakistan Telecom’s revenue fell to 13.7 billion rupees ($162.6 million) in the three months ended March 31, from 13.9 billion rupees a year ago, according to an April 29 filing.

Emirates Telecommunications Corp. plans to purchase another 25 percent in Pakistan Telecom, Irshaid said, without saying when the transaction would take place. Emirates Telecommunications, the state-owned telephone provider in the United Arab Emirates, won management control of Pakistan Telecom in April 2006 after it bought a 26 percent stake in the company for $2.6 billion.

Pakistan Telecom shares, which have risen 22 percent this year, fell 0.1 percent to 21.61 rupees on the Karachi Stock Exchange today.

Riaz Haq said...

Broadband users in Pakistan have reached 816,807 mark, as of April 2010, as per recently published stats by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

PTA stats said that Internet Service Providers of Pakistan added a total of 44,370 broadband subscribers in April 2010 compared to addition of 55,932 broadband subscribers in March 2010.

These statistics suggests that DSL still has 55 percent market share of total broadband market in Pakistan (in terms of subscribers), while WiMAX stands second with 30 percent subscribers’ market share.

EVO EVDO witnessed highest growth rate in last two quarters and has added its market share in terms of subscribers by 3 percent, while WiMAX subscribers’ market share grew by 2 percent.

On other hands, DSL users decreased by 3 percent and HFC saw a decline of 2 percent in market share in last 7 months.

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) now extends its wireless Broadband EVO service to 100 major cities and towns across Pakistan. PTCL EVO is a superior 3G wireless technology that gives opportunity to roam freely with an average download speeds from 300 kbps to 500 kbps.

PTCL has made the broadband technology affordable by lowering the barriers to entry and now geographically, the service is within the reach of a large number of Pakistanis.

The major cities that PTCL EVO covers are, Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Hyderabad, Chakwal, Gujranwala, Muzzafarabad, Rawalakot, Mirpur, Okara, Sargodha, Sialkot, Multan, Faisalabad, alongside other small towns and cities across Pakistan.

Expansion of PTCL broadband network will continue to ensure that more customers get the opportunity to experience the latest wireless broadband and related technologies.

Naveed Saeed SEVP Commercial, on achieving this important milestone, said that the EVO launch in 100 cities reflects PTCL’s commitment to connect its customers to the world via Internet and the company’s commitment to provide its customers with best telecom services at their doorsteps. Working in a market where technology changes every minute, PTCL always strives to introduce products and services that brings more value to its customers.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's how Pakistani middle class is helping the flood victims in Pakistan, according to Christian Science Monitor:

Ain-ul-Ghazala, a local Pakistani doctor, says what motivated her to take matters into her own hands came down to what she saw on television. Images of immense misery and destruction brought about by the worst floods in Pakistan in recent memory unfolded before her eyes, and she says she couldn't sit still.

She had noticed hundreds of tents setup on the streets of her hometown, where various groups sought funds and materials. But despite hearing repeated calls for more aid, tales of corruption deterred her from donating to the government or aid organizations, and she didn’t want to give her money to Islamist groups like Jamat-ud-Dawa.

“No one trusts the government anymore, so I wanted to see the situation for myself and do what I could to help,” she explains. As the effects of the disaster wound into a third week, the gynecologist, who works at a private hospital owned by her husband, decided to set off to the flood-afflicted southern Punjab region along with her three adult daughters and one of their friends, also a female medical doctor.

Over the course of two days, they distributed, tents and food, while the two doctors checked in on some 200 patients in Kot Addu, near Muzaffargarh. “There were a lot of people suffering," she says. On top of the health problems, "some didn’t have anything to wear - they were without any clothes,” she says. “We gave iron and calcium supplements to the pregnant women, and ended up seeing a few male patients, too.”
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According to Rasul Baksh Raees, head of social sciences at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, the reach and influence of civil society has grown as Pakistan’s middle classes have become more affluent, organized (thanks in no small part to the Internet age), and confident.

In recent years, Pakistan’s civil society has made headlines for its activism. Indeed, students and middle-class professionals joined lawyers in a movement to restore the country’s popular Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who was removed from office twice in recent years by former military ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Ms. Ali says she used Facebook to solicit contributions from relatives, friends, and friends of friends both at home and abroad. She raised some $2,300, transmitted either to her mother’s bank account or via Western Union transfers, to spend on "family packs" (food items, flour, cooking oils, sugar, lentils, and candles) for the victims of the flooding in Swat. Mr. Khurram and half-a-dozen friends, meanwhile, organized a couple of truckloads of meals and traveled to Swat to hand over supplies to the Army for distribution.

The group was stranded for three days by landslides but then traveled to the village of Solgarah in Pakistan’s northwest to setup a Tandoor kitchen that would feed 50 families for 10 days.

“Naturally we don’t have enough donations for everyone,” says Khurram. “So we tried to make sure the same families aren’t getting the same stuff again and again.”
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The open-source platform was originally created in Kenya and called Ushahidi, Swahili for "testimony." It maps user reports of events sent via text message, e-mail, the Web and Twitter. Explains Mr. Chohan: “We believe the mobile [phone] is the best way to communicate with people in normal conditions as well as disasters. This was tried and tested in Kenya and Haiti. Why not put all this first line of reporting on mobiles in Pakistan?” With more than 90 million mobile phone users, he says, it has the potential to become the largest deployment of Ushahidi anywhere in the world.

Riaz Haq said...

There are over a million broadband subscribers in Pakistan, according to PTCL:

Pakistani Internet Service Providers crossed one million mark for broadband internet subscribers in the country by totaling 1.052 million broadband subscribers in October 2010, up from 994,911 subscribers in September 2010, according to the recent most data provided by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

DSL companies added the most subscribers for broadband and stood at 516,167 subscribers in October 2010, up from 488,946 in September 2010.

EvDO service providers added a total of 15,540 subscribers in one month, while WiMAX companies added a total of 14,066 subscribers in the month. Total number of WiMAX subscribers in the country has hit 306,665 mark, up from 292,599 a month ago.

DSL remains the top technology used for broadband internet in the country, while WiMAX stands seconds. EvDO is swiftly adding its share for the broadband subscribers.

HFC and FTTH remains the lowest adding subscribers technologies in the country.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd. (PTCL) is to implement VDSL2 bonding technology to deliver speeds of up to 50 Mbps to its existing DSL subscriber base, using solutions from Alcatel-Lucent, according to Broadband World Forum:

Alcatel-Lucent is to provide PTCL with its Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM) IP access platform, as well as its bonding-ready customer premises equipment (CPE).

Alcatel-Lucent will also serve as the project's master network integrator, and will provide a range of professional services, including project management, installation and commissioning, integration and technical support.

VDSL2 bonding works by taking two copper-based VDSL2 lines per subscriber and aggregating them, thereby almost doubling the bandwidth available to existing customers.

Riaz Haq said...

PTCL and Alcatel-Lucent are launching 50Mbs service in Pakistan, according to Daily Times:

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) and Alcatel-Lucent in a joint press conference held on Friday announced the launch of VDSL2 Bonding technology for the first time in Pakistan pioneering the commercial use of this technology in the telecom industry globally.

PTCL will be the first service provider to deploy a commercial VDSL2 Bonding solution, showing “our commitment to take the broadband service experience in Pakistan to the next level.”

PTCL will be using VDSL2 Bonding technology to provide existing digital subscriber line (DSL) customers with speeds up to 50 Mbps. The project leverages Alcatel-Lucent’s (Euro next Paris and NYSE: ALU) VDSL2 Bonding expertise and will be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2011.

VDSL2 Bonding takes two copper-based VDSL2 lines per subscriber and aggregates them—almost doubling the bandwidths available to existing customers, or expanding high-speed broadband access to areas that are underserved today. Using VDSL2 Bonding, service providers can extend the life of their existing copper infrastructure - supporting the delivery of bandwidth-intensive services such as triple-play voice, data and HDTV.

According to a recent study from market research firm IHS iSuppli, simultaneous access to applications such as peer-to-peer file sharing, online gaming, streaming audio, VoIP and IPTV will soon require bandwidths between 50 and 100Mbps. This fits exactly with VDSL2’s capabilities—especially when combined with innovations such as Bonding and Vectoring.

Commenting on this achievement, Walid Irshaid, President and CEO of PTCL stated “PTCL is the first service provider worldwide to deploy a commercial VDSL2 Bonding solution that aims at doubling the bandwidths provided to its existing customers. We are thus setting the trend in international telecom, and are taking the broadband experience in Pakistan to the next level. Alcatel-Lucent’s VDSL2 Bonding technology and comprehensive services and network integration expertise is helping us to keep pace with the increasing bandwidth requirements of our customers, while capitalizing on the existing copper infrastructure. This will enable us to quickly deliver high-quality, high-speed and high-availability business and residential services – even in areas where it was not possible before.”

Alcatel-Lucent is providing PTCL with its Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM) IP access platform – which is the first platform to commercially support VDSL2 Bonding. Alcatel-Lucent will also supply Bonding-ready customer premises equipment (CPE). Alcatel-Lucent serves as the project’s master network integrator, and is providing a range of professional services – including project management, installation and commissioning, integration and technical support.

“We understand that service providers need the right tools to bridge the gap until fiber deployments become ubiquitous. VDSL2 Bonding is an ideal approach: service providers like PTCL can almost double the speeds supported by their DSL infrastructure or expand their network’s reach. This makes it a fast and cost-effective approach to bridging the digital divide,” said Aadil Rauf CEO Alcatel-Lucent.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Business Monitor Inc (BMI) forecast for Pakistan's telecom services:

The number of mobile subscribers in Pakistan reached the 100mn mark in September 2010 and is expected to continue its growth momentum due to the relatively low penetration rate. In this quarter, BMI has adjusted our mobile forecasts and we forecast 136.078mn subscribers in Pakistan by end-2015, representing a penetration rate of 70.3%.
We could see the launch of commercial 3G services in 2011 after the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority announced plans to submit its proposal to the government. We will revisit our forecasts for the number of 3G and mobile subscribers in the country when the plan is successfully implemented and details of the licence are revealed.
Pakistan’s broadband subscriber base reached 1.053mn in October 2010, an increase of 63.5% from the 643,892 in December 2009. While DSL remained the main technology used to access broadband services in the country, alternative wireless solutions WiMAX and EV-DO are catching up fast. The number of DSL users grew by 96.5% from 262,661 in June 2009. By contrast, subscriber figures of WiMAX and EV-DO increased by 246.6% and 708.5% over the same period to reach 306,665 and 181,947 respectively. The popularity of mobile broadband services is likely due to more affordable pricing plans bundled with low-cost mobile devices. Moreover, two-thirds of the population reside in rural areas where fixed-line infrastructure remains poor and wireless broadband service therefore becomes an attractive and relatively cheaper method to bring connectivity to the underserved regions.
Pakistan continued its decline on BMI’s Business Environment Ratings for the Asia-Pacific region. Although the country scored relatively well on the Industry Rewards and Risks segment, we note the country faces significant downside pressure on the macroeconomic front. While we upgraded the country’s headline growth forecast figure to 1.5% for FY2010/11 (July-June), we remain cautious as industrial activity continues to contract and rising lending rates hold back activity. Over the medium term, the country' s economic prospects remain bleak as the lack of domestic resources hampers recovery and reconstruction. Moreover, the country is at risk of experiencing years of instability and militant activity. Pakistan fell to 11th position from 10th position in BMI’s latest Business Environment Ratings in Q111 due to a decrease in the country’s Industry Rewards score, which dropped to 55.0 from 60.0 in the previous quarter. BMI’s own damage assessment suggests that the country will struggle to generate any meaningful real GDP growth in FY10/11 (July-June). Even after the clean-up operations are complete, we are unlikely to witness a return to the days of plus-5% economic growth (last seen between 2002 and 2007), as the government' s poor fiscal health and a protracted internal struggle against extremist elements weigh heavily on private sector demand. We believe that Pakistan' s business environment will remain highly challenging, with the shaky security situation and a dire energy shortage continuing to weigh on economic activity, particularly much-needed investment.

Riaz Haq said...

Considering all the massive negative propaganda in the Indian and western media about Pakistan, it is interesting to see that some Americans are noticing the 50 Mbps broadband access build-out in the "failed state" of Pakistan by a state-owned telephone company.

In a provocatively titled post "Osama bin Laden Getting Faster Internet Than You Have: Pakistan’s 50Mbps Future", an American blogger Philip Dampier complains as follows: "While America’s heartland is being wired for 3Mbps DSL service, residents in Pakistan are getting ready for speeds up to 50Mbps thanks to a major broadband expansion in the country".

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s imports of mobile handsets have swelled to reach Rs 33.5 billion during the July 2010 to March 2011 period, according to The Express Tribune:

According to figures released by the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS), mobile handset sales increased to Rs 33.5 billion ($392 million) from July 2010 to March 2011 as opposed to Rs 18 billion in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year, showing a growth of 85 per cent in the third quarter of the current fiscal year.

On an average, imports worth Rs 3.72 billion were carried out every month in the period under-review. Handset imports in the month of March were recorded at Rs. 4.75 billion ($55.76 million), up 48 per cent from last year.

The sale of handsets increased to more than 9 million in the said period if average monthly sales are evaluated at 1 million in the nine months in accordance with data shared by market experts.

As per estimate, if 1 million handsets having an average cost of Rs 4,000 are sold every month, it translates into Rs 4 billion overall sales. Therefore imports and sales costs are almost the same.

The little difference in numbers of imports and sales figures shows the high demanding trend in the local market owing to change of technology and introduction of new designs of handsets.

Market experts said that more than 60 per cent of the market consists of handsets falling in the Rs 4,000 to Rs 9,000 price range. Pakistan’s market has a solid demand of high cost handsets that exceeds the Rs 50,000 benchmark.

Imports and sales are constituted of more than 70 per cent Chinese-made handsets whereas different brands such as Nokia, Sony Ericson, LG and Samsung have retained their 25 -30 percent share in the local markets.

Importers and dealers forecast that import and sales may be affected as the telecom authority has come up with strict regulations, which could slow down the inflow of Chinese-made handsets in the local markets.

Sales of Chinese brands with International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) are also expected to increase in the coming months.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report in The Nation on PTCL data centers in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD - PTCL, understanding the rapidly changing business environment and its growing reliance upon automation, has introduced region’s largest Data Centres in Karachi and Lahore. These centers are certified by the internationally recognized certification body, EPI.
This certification by an international body is the first data centre certification in Pakistan’s history and proves PTCL’s commitment to providing state of the art products and services backed by engineering and support for the Government and Enterprise markets of Pakistan, says a press release issued here on Wednesday.
PTCL Data Center services is an ideal choice for companies who want the flexibility to house their Primary, Disaster Recovery and/or Business Continuity sites and choose from a variety of cost reducing services as their business demands.
PTCL Data Centre solution provides customers managed and hosted cloud based services that comprise of computing as a service, processing as a service, storage as a service, software as a service, application hosting, infrastructure hosting, caging, co-location, disaster recovery as a service, backup solutions, hosted business solutions, unified communications and telepresence switching.
President PTCL Walid Irshaid said “PTCL is heavily investing in these ICT assets on behalf of our customers so that they can focus on their core competencies. Getting our Data Centers certified is further evidence that PTCL is committed to provide technology to the Govt and Enterprise markets of Pakistan of international standards.
This certification by an internationally recognized organization ensures that PTCL Data centers provide a reliable, responsive and resilient infrastructure, is designed and built using international standards and provides a secure, managed, climatically controlled environment for the housing and hosting of sensitive, mission-critical data and applications.

Riaz Haq said...

World Health Org study concludes cell phones can cause cancer, according to the Daily Mail:

Mobile phone users may be putting themselves at higher risk of cancer, a major new study has confirmed.

The World Health Organisation-funded study has found that microwave radiation from mobile phones can increase the risk of brain tumours.

The agency has now listed mobile phones as a 'carcinogenic hazard', alongside lead, engine exhaust fumes and chloroform.

Before its announcement today, the WHO had assured people that no ill-effects had been established.

A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries made the decision after reviewing peer-reviewed studies on mobile phone safety.

The team found evidence that personal exposure was 'possibly carcinogenic to humans.'

This means that there is not enough long-term evidence to conclude if radiation from mobile phones is safe, but there is enough data to show a possible connection to tumours.

Mobile phones emit a kind of radiation known as non-ionising. It has been compared to a very low-powered microwave oven.
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Even more grave are the possible effects on children, who have thinner skulls and scalps - allowing radiation to penetrate much more deeply into the brain.

The rapid cell division of young brains could also multiply the mutating effects of radiation, according to Dr Black.

The WHO's warning joins a chorus of voices urging caution over excessive mobile phone use in recent years.

The European Environmental Agency has pushed for more studies, amid fears that the radiation from mobile phone handsets could be as dangerous to public health as smoking, asbestos and leaded petrol.

In 2010 the widest yet international study of the relationship between mobile phones and cancer found those who had used mobiles for a decade or more had double the rate of brain glioma, a type of tumour.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1392810/Mobile-phones-CAN-increase-cancer-risk-Shock-finding-major-study.html#ixzz1NyIHbuKI

Riaz Haq said...

According the LIRNEasia’s 2011 Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) survey, stakeholders in India, Pakistan and Indonesia have identified the telecom regulatory environments in their countries as improved since 2008, the last time the survey was carried out. In contrast, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines have seen the regulatory environments decline in effectiveness, while Thailandremains more-or-less the same.

The TRE Survey asks senior level stakeholders to evaluate the effectiveness of the telecom regulatory environment in the fixed, mobile and broadband subsectors along a Lickert scale of 1 to 5 (1 being highly ineffective and 5 being highly effective, with the mid-point of 3 being considered average performance). Seven different dimensions of regulation (market entry, tariff regulation, interconnection, universal service, anti-competitive-practices, quality of service) are evaluated by the stakeholders. This year, 349 responded participated in the 7 countries.

Within a country, scores for each of the dimensions reflect specific issues: for example, in India, the lowest score (of 2.3 out of 5) was received by the Access to Scarce Resources dimension in the mobile-sub-sector. This is perhaps not surprising given the 2G scandals in India. However, India did finally get around to allocating 3G spectrum in 2010, and did so by having its first ever spectrum auctions. Perhaps because of this, or because stakeholders believe that that the 2G scandal has finally paved way for transparency in allocation, the score of 2.3 this year is still an improvement, though marginal, over the 2008 score of 2.2. India’s USD 4 billion+ undisbursed Universal Service Fund and related policies are responsible for its biggest TRE score decline: the TRE for USO drops from 3.1 in 2008 to 2.4 this year. In contrast, tariff regulation in the mobile sub-sector continues to be the top performer with a score of 3.9 out of 5.0, indicating stakeholder satisfaction at TRAI’s policy of forbearance which has enabled Indian consumers to enjoy extremely low prices thanks to competitive forces.

Pakistan saw an increased in almost all dimensions, with the exception of 3 (fixed market entry, mobile access to scarce resources and mobile interconnection) which showed minor declines. In contrast, Bangladesh saw scores in all seven fixed-subsector dimensions decline, in some cases by as much as 1 point. The scores are perhaps reflective of the issues related to the cancellation of several fixed licenses. Overall only seven dimensions showed improvements in Bangladesh, and even these were marginal. Thailand, whose overall performance is unchanged, has however seen significant declines in its Market Entry scores due the uncertainties caused by the concession contracts granted to the mobile operators and what their status would be when they expire starting next year.

http://lirneasia.net/2011/07/india-pakistan-and-indonesia-have-improved-telecom-regulatory-environments-since-2008-according-to-stakeholders/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a UKPA story of a Pakistani innovators harnessing the Internet for the poor:

One of the world's top young technology innovators is working to bring internet-style networking to millions of Pakistanis who don't have access to the web.

Umar Saif's efforts, which centre around giving ordinary citizens new ways to use a basic mobile phone, recently earned him recognition by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The trigger for his research was a 2005 earthquake in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir that killed 80,000 people and caused widespread destruction. The disaster coincided with his return to Pakistan after getting a PhD in computer science from the University of Cambridge.

Realising that rescue workers were having trouble co-ordinating, Saif, 32, devised a computer program that allowed people to send a text message - or SMS - to thousands of people at once. Users send a text to a specific phone number to sign up for the program, and then can message all the subscribers, allowing users to engage in the kind of social networking possible on the internet.

It has since blossomed into a commercial enterprise called SMS-all that is used by at least 2.5 million people who have sent nearly four billion text messages.

"You can do the sorts of things that we do on Facebook and Twitter," said Saif, now an associate professor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

The company generates revenue by charging a small amount for each message. Saif has expanded the service to Iraq and Nigeria by working with telecommunication companies there.

Roughly 20 million Pakistanis use the internet, about 11% of the country's total population of 187 million. But there are more than 108 million Pakistani mobile phone subscribers.

"The thing to do is to bring whatever you have on the internet on the phone lines, because that is what gets used the most," said Saif.


http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5gGB71MuxyPPnNQBdZ4xMfvksHuxA?docId=N0201411315222132958A

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a Bloomberg story on Qualcomm's plans for sub-$100 smartphone for the Indian market:

Last month, Chinese handset makers Huawei and ZTE unveiled Android phones powered by Qualcomm chips for about $100. That’s not yet low enough for Indian operators, though. “The big threshold will happen at $50 to $60,” says Sanjay Kapoor, CEO for South Asia at Bharti Airtel. “At that price, then an explosion of the market can happen.”

To get there, Jacobs has made changes at Qualcomm. In the late 2000s the company lost a step to Taiwanese rival MediaTek, which made a splash in 2G phones by working closely with cheap, no-name producers in China that had little experience making handsets. MediaTek didn’t just sell them its chips; it taught its customers how to produce handsets. Jacobs says Qualcomm tried to keep its distance from what he calls this “swarm of ants” strategy, but MediaTek’s success made Qualcomm realize it had to adapt. Now the American company has started offering reference designs of its own to companies that work on 3G phones. “We learned you need to give the complete design, soup to nuts,” says Jacobs.

That new approach is helping companies such as Micromax, one of India’s leading local brands, take aim at the $100 smartphone barrier. Micromax once needed up to 12 months to come out with a phone, says Vikas Jain, business director and co-founder of the company. Now it needs only four, he says. Qualcomm’s expertise is also helping Micromax reduce its use of components from other companies, Jain adds, thus cutting by 30 percent its bill of materials for new devices. The company’s cheapest smartphone now costs $175, but Jain expects a $100 handset within six months. “Once we are able to reach these price points,” he says, “we are very sure about the mass adoption of smartphones in India.”

For most Indians right now, though, the smartphone “is not a device that you must have,” says Lennard Hoornik, president of South Asia for Taiwan-based smartphone maker HTC. The $100 challenge, he says, misses the point. For Indians to buy smartphones en masse, they need to have lots of apps in Hindi, Tamil, Bengali, and other Indian languages. “There aren’t enough local apps that make people feel, ‘I have to have this.’ ”
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Meanwhile, Qualcomm is looking further ahead. Although 3G is only getting off the ground in India, the government last year auctioned off spectrum for the next generation of high-speed mobile service. To ensure operators go with the Qualcomm-backed standard, called Long Term Evolution, rather than the alternative WiMAX technology backed by Intel (INTC), Qualcomm spent $1 billion to buy spectrum. The plan is to sell it to operators and help them launch LTE networks. The move, which Jacobs calls “a surgical strike,” not only outflanked Intel, it also helped drive operators in other countries to the LTE camp, says Shiv Putcha, an India telecom analyst with London-based research firm Ovum. He points to moves by Clearwire (CLWR) in the U.S. and Yota in Russia to adopt LTE as signs that Jacobs’s strategy has paid off. “Qualcomm coming in and pushing LTE really shut the door” on Intel, he says. “All of these technologies are going to coexist,” says Aicha Evans, general manager of Intel’s Mobile Wireless Group. “The users don’t really care what is below the hood.”

For the next few years, though, the real action in India will be in 3G networks. Back in the Palika Bazaar, salesman Khan is waiting for a cheap smartphone that might interest some of his customers. A $40 made-in-China clone won’t provide the sort of online experience you can get from real smartphones, but there’s no beating the price. “For a common man,” says Khan, “I’m not sure there’s a better deal.”


http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/qualcomm-rewires-for-india-09082011.html

Riaz Haq said...

Mobile handset sales reach a million a month in Pakistan, according a report in The Nation:

ISLAMABAD (APP)– Development of Telecom sector has also surged the sale of mobile handsets in Pakistan, which reaches around 1 million per month.
There is flood of different mobile handsets in the market, especially Chinese sets are the most favourite as they are available in latest features and designs and the price is also within the range of everyone.
This figure clearly shows how much our nation has the craze for new mobile sets. Hiba, a student of third year in COMSATS, said “ Usually I spend my pocket money on buying mobile sets, as soon as a new model comes in the market”.
The second copy of branded cellphones has made its way in the domestic market along with unique features of dual SIM system. According to a dealer at Gulzar-e-Quaid Market Rawalpindi, the Chinese cellphones of different brands are available from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 12,000, depending on variety and quality.
He said the number of Chinese brands s more than 50, which are usually imported but there are some 15 brands that have captured the local markets.
No doubt, Chinese made handsets are cheap and have numerous features which attract customers posthastly, he maintained.
Another dealer at Blue Area said, normally people are attracted by the handsets, which cost between Rs 2,000 and Rs 10,000 and have features of branded mobile sets costing Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 40,000.
He said people ask for the sets which have better quality camera along with sharp memory. The mobile sets appeal to the masses who cannot buy Rs 30,000 original brand of iPhone but they can afford Chinese made Iphone in just Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 only with one year warranty.
Sale of mobile sets remains the same, no matter the economy is in shambles. The ratio of mobile subscribers have reached around 100 million in Pakistan, which is a clear manifestation of telecom development in the country.


http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Business/03-Oct-2011/Mobile-sets-sale-reaches--1m-per-month

Riaz Haq said...

Media report says cell phone service company Zong in a deal with Manchester United to train Pakistan's young footballers:

KARACHI: Some 32 young footballers between the ages of 10 and 18 from all over Pakistan can look forward to training by Manchester United players and coaches, including Sir Alex Ferguson, thanks to an arrangement between the world-famous professional football club and a mobile telecom company here.

“Seeing the popularity of football among youngsters in Pakistan, Zong has entered into a three-year contract with Manchester United. It is hoped that this one of a kind partnership will lead to prosperity, growth and triumph for the sport here,” said the company’s Director Advertising and Promotions Rizwan Akhter at a press conference called to announce the union at a local hotel here on Tuesday.

Unveiling the benefits of the contract, Rizwan Akhter said: “From next year, we will hold country-wide trials to pick 32 best footballers in the 10 to 18 age group for training by the club’s players and coaches.”

The partnership gives Pakistan rights to exclusive news and footage of the English clubs activities in order to bring the 150,000 Manchester United fans here closer to the club and their favourite players.

“The move will go a long way in promoting football in Pakistan and inspiring more young players to take up the sport here,” explained the company’s representative.

“It will also allow us here to look more closely at the club’s way of working and their formats in order to take out and follow the positive things from there to help improve the infrastructure here,” he added.

“Though we are focusing on the grassroots level for now, it is hoped that along with the inspiration gained from learning more about the famous English club with such an interesting history will come improvement in football grounds and academies here,” pointed out the gentleman.

Meanwhile, to a question about the possibility of Manchester United players or coaches visiting Pakistan, the organisers said that the present security situation prevents that from happening until things improved here.


http://www.dawn.com/2011/10/26/manchester-uniteds-best-to-aid-pakistani-footballers.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune report tiled "Nokia Sees Pakistan Becoming a High-Growth Market":

KARACHI: Foreign delegates and local entrepreneurs discussed challenges facing businesses, sought greater industry-academia collaboration and highlighted business models to succeed in an emerging market at the 12th Management Association of Pakistan (MAP) Convention on Leadership Challenges for Business Success here on Wednesday.

Emerging markets will account for 80% of the world’s growth the next decade and Pakistan will be an important emerging market in future, Senior Vice President of Nokia India, Middle East and Africa Shivakumar said in a speech titled “Winning in emerging markets”.

Speaking to a conference packed with businessmen, Shivakumar – who is also the senior vice president of All India Management Association (AIMA) – said growth in developed economies has slowed down dramatically and the world is now looking at emerging markets, which account for 42% of population and 13% of income.

Pakistan is listed in four categories of emerging markets including Dow Jones 35 and emerging and growth level economies (EAGLES), he said. “Pakistan will be an important high-growth emerging market.”

In order to succeed in an emerging economy, he said, it is important to understand its segments and consumers. The emerging market consumers – most of whom live under $2 a day – are value-sensitive and not price-sensitive, he said and added entrepreneurs have to work on their business models to accommodate that segment of consumers who believe in the doctrine of “pay more, get more” and “pay less, get less”.

Sharing his experiences, he said, there are three things that he applied and succeeded. “Always put the country’s interest first, keep fixed costs very low and turn as many cost variables as possible,” he said.

“Never cut the features and offer your product at half the price. Consumers don’t want an incomplete product.”

Speaking to the participants earlier on, event’s chief guest and State Bank of Pakistan Governor Yaseen Anwar said it is time for all business leaders and managers to take the lead. Leaders must be more aware of the challenges facing the country – inflation, unemployment and power crisis.

There are no shortcuts to sustained economic development, Anwar said. “We need to develop the right strategies and then translate these strategies into action.”

AIMA President Rajiv Vastupal also addressed the event, saying IMF has lowered growth projection for both 2011 and 2012. “Today’s corporate leaders must focus on innovation to counter the global economic challenges,” he said. He elaborated the successful example of Apple’s iPad, which was launched during recession and earned a great success.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/306766/nokia-sees-pakistan-becoming-a-high-growth-market/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report in The Nation about the use of mobile phones to deliver teacher training and resources:

ISLAMABAD - Nokia and UNESCO Islamabad have launched “Mobile Learning Project for Teacher’s Professional Development” on Thursday as formal collaboration took place in the presence of senior government officials, Nokia and UNESCO representatives.
As part of this programme, UNESCO and Nokia are joining hands, where Nokia is providing a technology solution known as Nokia Education Delivery to the UNESCO project ‘use of ICT for professional development of public school teachers’ in remote areas.
In Pakistan, through the project, Nokia will help UNESCO to enable the delivery of high- quality educational materials to teachers who lack training and resources.
Through mobile phones teachers will be given an opportunity to train themselves. Nokia developed the Nokia Education Delivery programme to allow using a mobile phone to access and download videos and other educational materials from a constantly updated education library.
Speaking about the project, UNESCO Director, Kozue Kai Nagata said, “In 21st century public-private partnerships are enjoying growing attention and support as a new and sustainable modality for development.
We are confident to collaborate with Nokia to provide us with the best platform to train public school teachers. Nokia Education Delivery programme is fit to match our need of delivering quality training to a large number of public school teachers across Pakistan through the project named “Mobile Learning for Teachers”.
Amir Jahangir, President AGAHI and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, shared his views on the launch that “Pakistan is a knowledge starved country, where universal education has its own challenges. To meet the target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on education, Pakistan needs to address its education challenges through innovation and technology which can reach to a larger population with cost effective solutions”.
This unique pilot project for Pakistan has been initiated by UNESCO and AGAHI while Nokia Pakistan will enable the project implementation by providing not just Nokia devices but a complete solution via its Nokia Education Delivery programme.


http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Business/23-Dec-2011/Nokia-Unesco-join-hands

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report about Pakistan's telecom sector figures in 2010-11:

Telecom sector has a potential to attract billions dollars of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as total revenues of telecom operators in the country has been swelled to an all time high Rs 362 billion in 2011 at the end of financial year.

The telecom sector has expanded its services rapidly in many parts of the country over the period of past one decade. It is still in the evolving stage to deploy its services in many un-served small cities and villages and companies are plan to increase their operation areas in maximum locations to get handsome number of customers of their different services.

According to a report of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) the telecom sector contributed more than Rs 116.9 billion to the national exchequer in the outgoing financial year during 2010-11.

Accordingly, the GST/FED collections from the sector spike by 20% to reach Rs 52.6 billion in the same year whereas Rs 7.2 billion activation tax collected.

According to this report PTA deposits reached to Rs12 billion whereas other taxes reached to Rs 45.2 billion.

Cellular income which constitutes major chunk of the telecom revenues was boosted by 11% to Rs. 262 billion from Rs. 236 billion. A modest increase in cellular industry’s ARPU was witnessed from US$ 2.41 in the previous fiscal year to US$ 2.45.

The revenues of local loop operators recorded Rs58.32 billion. The wireless operators earned Rs4.84 billion and LDI sector revenues reached to Rs 29.95 billion. The value added sector made Rs 7.02 billion revenues during fiscal year 2011..

The number of mobile subscribers at the end of fiscal year 2011 stood at 108.9 million, showing growth rate of 10%, double than that of the last year. Mobile penetration rose to 65.4% from 60.4% in the previous year.

In this report it has been said that during the past three years, PTA has collected around Rs. 40 billion against APC for USF. In its drive to curb grey traffic, the Authority saved revenue of US$ 26 million.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in its report “Vision 2020” estimated that telecom investments in Pakistan would be landed more than US$ 2.4 billion by 2020. The mobile subscribers’ base is expected to be widened to 161 million, hence approximately 89% of the total population by 2020.


http://www.onlinenews.com.pk/details.php?id=188473

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s teledensity crosses 70pc mark, reports Daily Times:

KARACHI: Teledensity in Pakistan crossed the 70 percent mark by end of February 2012 mainly on the growing subscriptions of cellular mobile phone companies in urban and rural areas of the country, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) data said on Saturday.

The teledensity of cellular phone stood at 67.2 percent; wireless sector teledensity reached at 1.8 percent and landline teledensity settled at 1.6 percent, making overall teledensity at 70.6 percent.

Pakistan’s teledensity is the second highest in South Asia after India that reached 78.10 percent. It remained on top among the region till January 2011 with modest annual growth, however corrective measures and saturated markets slowed down its growth.

The teledensity is defined as the number of customers per 100 people. Hence it is roughly said that 70 percent of the population own and avail telephony services through different technologies.

The mobile phone connection has risen to 116 million on different networks, constituting the lion’s share in the field of telecom sector in terms of subscribers and their technology selection.

Similarly, the wireless phone companies have increased their number of connections to 2.7 million by February whereas the landline connections decreased to stand at 2.9 million in the country.

In the cellular sector, Mobilink grabbed the largest subscribers’ base with 35.2 million. It was followed by Telenor and Ufone with 28.8 million and 22.4 million connections, respectively. The subscribers’ number of Zong and Warid stood at 14.9 million and 14.6 million users, respectively.

Analysts in the telecom sector said that the growth in cellular subscribers’ base showed the penetration of the mobile phone operators in the rural and small areas besides the metropolis.

They said that mobile phone users of multiple SIMs have been on the rise for availing on-net calls and SMS packages of different networks for affordability and increasing services utility.

Besides, there are millions of connections inactive for months but the cellular operators try to reactivate them by offering free balance to subscribers. In this regard, the cellular operators have introduced several prize schemes to attract new and retaining customers to maintain their growing base.

In the wireless sector, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL) and TeleCard are market leaders with 1.43 million and 0.743 million, respectively. In the landline sector, PTCL and NTC are market leaders with 2.7 million and 104 million connections, respectively.

The wireless operators’ competitive packages in the limited cities witnessed gradual growth particularly on daily consumption against fixed charges. On the contrary, the landline sector witnessed constant decline in connections on the services issues, high tariff and line rent.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\04\15\story_15-4-2012_pg5_8

http://www.pta.gov.pk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=269&Itemid=658

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET story on Blackberry presence in Pakistan:

RIM has opened the doors of App World to the sixth largest mobile market, three years after its launch in US, Canada and UK – indicating a shift of focus to the emerging economies. With the inclusion of Pakistan, App World is now available in over 130 countries.

Pakistani BlackBerry users can access apps that include the newly introduced BBM connected apps, which make it easier for users to stay in touch with their contacts, share content and play multiplayer games, and discover new things from their BBM community; Saihgal said.

There are already several applications available in App World that were developed with Pakistani users in mind, the MD said, including the Pakistan Cricket News app for sports fans; the Abida Parveen Collection for music aficionados; the Karachi Love application for tourists visiting the port city and even a Pakistan Animated Theme to liven up the smartphone.

Limited access to apps

BB users welcomed the much-awaited launch of App World, however, they still don’t have access to all the apps available on the store. RIM may have to put in more to win over rivals iPhone and Android whose users enjoy unlimited access to the App Store and Android Marketplace, respectively, according to experts.

Pakistani users, according to Saihgal, will have access to the Middle East catalogue that provides access to only 40,000 apps.

Though appreciated, RIM’s recent move was not a surprise for industry analysts who believe it was always on the cards – especially due to increasing popularity of iPhone and Android-powered phones.

“BlackBerry certainly dominated Pakistani market until 2010. However, its market share fell recently after iPhone gained more popularity among masses,” said a telecom official who requested not to be named. Introduction of android-powered phones to the market was another blow to the Canadian smartphone maker, official added.

Responding to a question, the official said companies usually give BlackBerry to their executives and managers as part of their job package, which is why it dominates the corporate sector. He, however, added iPhones and Android-powered phones have recently gained much popularity among masses in the country, it is, therefore, hard to say whether BlackBerry still dominates the country’s smartphone market or not.

The exact figures for BlackBerry’s market share in Pakistan could not be obtained – mainly due to the information being confidential – however, three telecom sources estimated that there are about 1 million BB users in Pakistan.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/374851/smartphone-wars-pakistan-part-of-blackberrys-shift-to-emerging-markets/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BR story on FDI plummeting in Pakistan:

According to the latest data released by the State Bank of Pakistan on 15th May, foreign private investment in the country dropped to only dollar 595 million in July-April, 2012 as compared to dollar 1.622 billion in the corresponding period last year, showing a huge fall of over 63 percent.

Out of this, foreign direct investment (FDI) fell to dollar 667 million as against dollar 1292.8 million in the comparable period of 2011-12, while portfolio investment showed an outflow of dollar 71 million in sharp contrast to an inflow of dollar 329 million in the corresponding period last year.

Sector-wise, the most discouraging news was in the telecommunication sector which used to be the favourite area of investment of foreigners but witnessed a profoundly high net outflow of dollar 327 million of investment during the first ten months of the current fiscal as against an inflow of dollar 73 million in July-April, 2011.

The power sector also recorded a net outflow of dollar 25 million compared to a net inflow of dollar 129 million in the same period of last year.

FDI in financial business declined to only dollar 54 million compared to dollar 223 million in the corresponding period of 2010-11.

Transport and trade sectors also witnessed massive declines of 83 percent and 55 percent, respectively, in FDI during the year.

However, investment in the oil and gas exploration sector at dollar 466 million witnessed an increase of 12 percent during July-April, 2012.

Country-wise, FDI from the US was the highest at dollar 196 million followed by the UK at dollar 171 million, Italy at dollar 162 million and China at dollar 113 million.

A steep fall in FDI during the first 10 months of 2011-12 is definitely disturbing news for the country, especially at a time when the economy is in dire need of liquidity to revive its growth prospects to create job opportunities and reduce poverty.

Also, foreign investment is crucial for technological upgradation, innovative improvements and overall modernisation of the industrial base to allow it to be competitive at the international level and enhance exports to narrow the widening trade gap.

Of course, the compulsion to attract FDI would have been less severe if the country was able to generate the required level of domestic resources to finance the needed investment, but obviously this is not the case as indicated by a huge gap in these two variables.

The most worrying aspect of the situation is that foreign investors have, over the years, changed their perception about the country as a favourable destination of investment and shifted their attention to other countries.

This is indicated by a steady decline in FDI in the country from dollar 5.4 billion in FY08 to dollar 3.7 billion in FY09, dollar 2.2 billion in FY10 and dollar 1.7 billion in FY11.

If the present trend continues which we have no reason to contest, the inflow of FDI during 2011-12 could be less than dollar one billion or highly inadequate to make any meaningful contribution to the country's economic prospects.

The reasons for a rapid decline in FDI in the recent years are not difficult to understand.

Although, there are ample opportunities for investment in various sectors of the economy and Pakistan has one of the most conducive policy framework to attract FDI, the inhibiting factors are so dominant and pervasive that foreign investors seem to avoid the country without giving much thought to the positive gestures of the government.

Some of the deterrents to foreign investment include poor infrastructure, energy crisis, very poor law and order situation, corruption, political instability, lack of good governance and increasing militancy......


http://www.brecorder.com/editorials/0/1190691:slump-in-foreign-investment/?date=2012-05-18

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on online trading marketplace in Pakistan:

The team at Dekho.com.pk reveals Pakistan’s twin capital cities Rawalpindi/
Islamabad are the trading capitals in online second-hand items with a value of Rs 7,765.7 per capita.
Rawalpindi and Islamabad are followed by Lahore with Rs 6,904.2 per capita and Karachi Rs 1722.3 per capita as compared to Rs 851.37 per capita for Pakistan as a whole.
The Dekho.com.pk team confirmed Lahore has the most valued second hand trade value for cars with an average price of Rs 785,036 followed by Rawalpindi/Islamabad with Rs 761,252 and Karachi with Rs 626,951 possibly owing to Karachi being the first city on port-entry for all second hand imports.
Rawalpindi/Islamabad however proves to be the more technologically ambitious of the cities with an average price of Rs 13,149 for second-hand cellphones, mostly smartphones, followed by Lahore, which has an average value for second hand cellphone trade at Rs 12,526 and Karachi with Rs 11,284. Further analysis reveals with an average price of Rs 21,860,813 for houses in Karachi as compared to Rs 13,566,355 in Lahore, Rawalpindi/Islamabad has one of the lowest average values for houses with an average value of Rs 13,520,168.
Interestingly, the online trading of animals is also actively picking up with Lahore alone providing trading value of Rs 54,804,035 among which dogs and farm animals are the most popular. It also received over 5,700 job postings across Pakistan in these 10 months.
In terms of sheer numbers, Lahore is the online classified trading capital in Pakistan according to Dekho.com.pk with over 47 percent to Rs 75,946,267,779 of the online classified trading market share.
In Pakistan, the use of online shopping or trading mediums is still relatively new and despite this, the figures are so promising.
With over 20 million internet users in Pakistan, Dekho is one of Pakistan’s fastest growing free classifieds websites with a simple aim to provide a credible platform platform for online buyers and sellers to interact.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012\08\29\story_29-8-2012_pg5_9

http://dekho.com.pk/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's ET on China Mobile's plans in Pakistan:



“We are eying the number two position by 2014 at the most,” China Mobile Pakistan CEO Fan Yun Jun, sporting a Pakistan-China friendship badge on the lapel of his coat, tells The Express Tribune at the company’s headquarters in Islamabad.

In Pakistan since 2007, China Mobile’s Zong was the last player to join cellular mobile operators (CMOs) in the country. It is currently ranked fourth based on the size of its customer base with more than 17 million subscribers.

Zong recorded 50% growth in its subscriber base in 2011, and it is likely to achieve similar growth this year, according to the company. Owing to its strategy, which focuses on expanding the company’s subscriber base and cheaper calling rates, Zong has gained close to a million subscribers in the July-September quarter alone.

And while naysayers claim the company cannot survive for long based on its average revenue per user (ARPU) – currently the lowest in the industry – its optimistic CEO does not yet consider it a problem. “We in no hurry to increase our calling rates,” Jun says. “We are enjoying this position – offering the lowest calling rates in the industry.”
-------
The company may not be willing to increase calling rates just yet, but it is venturing into other areas to increase its revenues. In November 2012, Zong launched Timepey (on time), its own brand of mobile banking services, joining other operators already in the industry

Timepey looks set to get a significant initial boost from a contract for the disbursement of Army salaries. The contract is one of the major benefits it stands to gain because of its partnership with Askari Bank, which is owned by the Army Welfare Trust.

A greener company

Meanwhile, Zong is also using a combination of alternate energy sources to adjust its rising fuel costs – one of the major headaches cellular operators are currently grappling with.

“We want to increase revenue, but reduce costs at the same time,” Jun explains. “All CMOs are making efforts to use alternative energy sources [in this regard].”

Zong has provided more than 400 solar panel sets at its sites countrywide, according to Jun. Zong has also launched a pilot project on one of their sites that will run on biogas. Additionally, Jun reveals, the company is using intelligent controllers to reduce energy consumption.

Another technology introduced by the company is the multicarrier power amplifier, which has helped the company increase its energy efficiency by a great deal. “We have introduced this solution here and transferred about 70 to 80 sites on this technology. It saves us between 42-51% in energy consumption,” Jun says.

Possible merger plans?

Zong is currently working on several joint ventures with Warid Telecom. The latter is said to be in talks with all telecom operators for a possible merger. If the two operators go for it, Zong might not have to wait until 2014 to become the industry’s second largest player.

Jun, however, smartly evades the question, “Warid is an important partner and we are doing lots of joint projects. If a merger can benefit both companies, we can think about it.” At the moment, he says the company is more inclined towards infrastructure sharing – which accounts for 50% of their expansion plan.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/485610/china-mobile-pakistan-making-quick-inroads-into-pakistans-cellular-market/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Telecom report on growing base of broadband subscribers in Pakistan:

Pakistan ended October 2012 with 2.25 million broadband subscribers, up from 2.21 million in September, according to figures from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). Most subscribers used DSL to connect to the internet, with the numbers rising to 913,102 from 904,154 a month earlier. Furthermore, the number of EV-DO internet users grew to 700,214 from 666,886 in the prior month. However, the Wimax internet base fell to 587,967 from 591,680 in September and the number of HFC internet users slipped to 34,141 from 35,343. There were also 9,299 FTTH users in October, up from 8,971 a month earlier, and 3,069 broadband subscribers used other technologies.

http://www.telecompaper.com/news/pakistan-ends-october-with-225-mln-broadband-subs--920583

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Telecom report on increasing mobile subscriber base i Pakistan:

The number of mobile customers in Pakistan grew to 123.60 million in November last year, up from 121.60 million in October 2012, while mobile teledensity inched up to 69.8 percent fro 68.8 percent, according to figures from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). Mobilink led the market with 36.60 million subscribers, up from 36.39 million a month earlier, followed by Telenor which had 30.81 million subscribers, compared with 30.43 million in October. Ufone's subscriber base grew to 24.31 million from 24.07 million, and Zong ended the month with 18.93 million customers, up from 17.95 million in October. Warid had 12.94 million subscribers in November compared with 12.76 million in the prior month.

http://www.telecompaper.com/news/pakistans-mobile-base-reaches-12360-mln-in-november--920582

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET Op Ed on IT developments anticipated in 2012:

2013 will see the adoption of Cloud services continue to grow in Pakistan. Increasingly, customers – both individuals and companies – will seek to store their data ‘in the Cloud’ as opposed to physical data servers, as well as avail of software services on a ‘rental’ basis. Large MNCs, banks and other financial services companies have already moved into this domain some time ago. Looking forward, educational institutions are likely to take the next step, as digitisation of educational content takes place. Some progressive institutions have already adopted softwares such as Moodle and Learning Management Systems and incorporated their curriculum on them, thereby preparing their scholars for a digital future.
-------------
Pakistan has over 100 million cellular subscribers; reportedly, around 10% of these use smart phones. Data usage has grown substantially, and there are an estimated 10 million mobile data users in Pakistan. However, it is important to note that 3G has been overhyped and may actually fall short of expectations, as it has in India.

Almost a year into its launch in India, only 2% of subscribers have opted for 3G services. 3G will require ubiquitous coverage for consumers to be satisfied with the services. WiMAX can play an important role here by offering a solution for data backhauling for telecom operators. Wateen has already deployed around 250 WiFi hotspots in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, and is ideally positioned to fulfill the data needs for mobile operators.
---------------
Branchless banking and m-commerce services will be the biggest innovations for the year. New entrants (Zong and Askari Bank, and Mobilink and Waseela) have recently launched their offerings and promise to improve the take-up of this service. New payment solutions will also be a first in the country, as smart phones enable swipe magnetic card readers and pioneering companies such as Inov8 Ltd begin to deliver on their potential for the consumer market. Smart phone apps will also be big.
-----------
In Pakistan, some companies have already started bringing Android-based devices for as low as Rs5,000. Indians have recently announced that they will be developing the world’s cheapest tablet for $35. These devices will play an exceptional role in transforming societies. The consumerisation of IT has already started taking place in Pakistan. Companies like QMobile will play an important role in the proliferation of low-cost handheld devices. This, in turn, will impact the use of mobile internet and broadband, open WiFi and WiMAX, as well as Cloud services, as consumers look to access data and media on their handheld devices.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/499410/notes-from-the-world-of-it-2013--looking-ahead-into-the-year/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Silicon Republic report on the future expansion of mobile telecom:

Emerging markets will be the key source of future mobile communications growth with 1.6bn new connections coming from around the world, out of which 61pc of these will come from Asia.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said that bringing the next 1bn users online will be a major disruptive force for the industry. He unveiled the new Nokia 105 device, the first full colour device with internet and email connectivity that will cost less than US$15.

Elop said: “We believe that the next 1bn people are very young and very ambitious. For the very first time they are able to afford their own mobile phone, it is not a device they have to share with their family or the village. It’s their own.”

Manoj Kohli, the CEO of India-headquartered Bharti Airtel, the third largest mobile operator in the world with 261m subscribers in 20 countries, said that for every 10pc increase in broadband penetration in a developing country there is a 1pc increase in GDP.

He said there is a need for mobile devices that cost less than US$30 and mobile broadband dongles that cost less than US$10.

At the Mobile World Congress browser creator Mozilla revealed its Firefox OS that will be included on devices from LG, Huawei, Alcatel and ZTE to bring affordable smartphones into the hands of consumers in developing markets. Operators from America Movil, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Etilisat, Hutchison Three, KDDI, KT, MegaFon, Qtel, SingTel, Smart, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telenor, TMN and VimpelCom have undertaken to carry smartphone devices from the various mobile manufacturers who have committed to the new Firefox OS.

According to the GSMA, there are 3.4bn people on the planet today connected by mobile devices and this will grow to 3.9bn by 2017.

4G LTE will account for one in five connections in the world versus one out of every 25 in 2012.

The GSMA estimates that the industry is expected to spend US$1.1trn on capex in the next five years and will add 1.3m jobs around the world. The mobile industry’s contribution to global GDP between 2013 and 2017 as a result of its investment is expected to add up to US$10.5trn
----------
“Ovum forecasts that emerging markets will be the key source of future mobile connections growth, particularly in Africa and Asia-Pacific. Between 2012 and 2017, Ovum expects that there will be 1.6bn new mobile connections across the world, with 61pc of these coming from Asia-Pacific.

“While connections growth in Asia-Pacific will begin to slow towards the end of our forecast period, the region’s 4.4bn connections in 2017 will make it the greatest contributor to global connections. Growth in the Asia-Pacific region will largely be driven by the big three emerging markets of China, India, and Indonesia, which will have 3bn connections between them in 2017.

“While Asia-Pacific will generate the most new connections, Africa will be the fastest-growing region. African mobile connections will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5pc between 2012 and 2017, increasing from 683m in 2012 to 935m in 2017.

“While connections growth is important, the biggest issue for emerging market operators will continue to be around revenue growth and how to remain profitable with a customer base of low-ARPU users.

“Both Nokia and Airtel’s CEOs talked about the need for cheaper devices. The strategies of operators in Vietnam, India, Pakistan, and Tanzania demonstrate how telcos can operate in markets where ARPU is below US$3 per month.

“While the correlation between high ARPU and profitability is not absolute, operators still need to take action to improve the amount of revenue that they make from each connection. This is of paramount importance to operators in markets where ARPU will be less than US$5 per month in 2017,” Pawsey said.


http://www.siliconrepublic.com/comms/item/31667-next-1bn-users-central-to/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Techinasia report on Telenor's planned investment in Pakistan:

Norwegian telecom group Telenor will invest $1.7 billion in Pakistan after acquiring a 3G spectrum, reports Propakistani. The massive investment, announced by Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas at a recent meeting with members of the Pakistan media, should have a large impact on the country; Baksass predicts that it will increase internet penetration and, by extension, the country’s GDP.

This new investment should be a boon especially for rural people who may not have internet access, as $700 million of it is apparently earmarked for spreading 3G networks across the country. Baksaas reportedly said that he expects this rollout to have a greater impact on rural residents than urban residents.

This is not Telenor’s first foray into Pakistan, the company has already invested more than $2 billion there. That shouldn’t come as a large surprise given that the company is one of Pakistan’s largest telecom operators, with more than 30 million subscribers in the country


http://www.techinasia.com/telenor-invest-1-billion-pakistan-3g/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PakistanToday report on mobile telecom growth in Pakistan:

The voice and SMS ratio per subscriber per month has also notably improved as average cellular mobile subscriber in Pakistan,is making voice calls of 203 minutes per month whereas, generating 214 SMS.

An incredible growth of 43.97% in voice traffic average per user has been witnessed while growth of 7% in SMS use per subscriber was noted during the period.
-------------
The attractive tariff packages with unlimited call offers and discounted minutes have helped generate a record national cellular mobile outgoing traffic of 294.2 billion minutes during year 2012-13. The cellular mobile national outgoing traffic to cellular network has shown a tremendous growth of 52.51% as compared to the same period of previous year 2011-12 in which 192.9 billion minutes were generated. Each passing year has been showing a reasonable growth as the total national cellular mobile outgoing traffic was only 76 billion minutes in 2009-10 and 137.7 billion minutes in 2010-11.

As per new figures issued by regulator Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the massive growth in national cellular mobile outgoing traffic was also contributed by new subscribers in the cellular network during the year and very attractive packages offered by cellular operators to win the subscribers from each other.

Lucrative cellular tariff packages with unlimited call offers and discounted minutes have become a major attraction for the cellular subscribers as the cellular mobile operators adopted aggressive promotional strategies offering attractive packages for Voice, Data and SMS, including free calls and unlimited SMS.

These marketing tactics resulted in more business for companies mainly from voice calls and SMS. Both the voice and SMS traffic has risen during the 2012-13 owing to bundled packages and SMS offers.

During 2012-13, a record 315.7 billion SMSs were exchanged by the mobile consumers, showing an increase of 13.68% from previous year, though the growth rate is lower than corresponding period of previous year but the total figure of SMS exchanged is impressive.

The figures further showed that the national outgoing traffic from mobile to fixed networks remained very low as compared to traffic from mobile to mobile networks. This was mainly due to low tariffs being offered on the same network by operators as well as the huge difference in cellular and fixed line subscriber numbers.

The international outgoing traffic from cellular network has also witnessed a gradual increase and shown a healthy growth of 17.92% by June 2013 contrary to sharp decline of 28.69% for the same period of 2011-12.

The international incoming traffic on cellular networks somewhat declined and showed a negative trend of 10.02% for the year 2012-13 as compared to the year 2010-11. The decrease in international incoming traffic could be due to increase in Access Promotion Contribution (APC) change during 2012-13 from 1.25 US cents to 2.90 US cents, which discouraged Long Distance International (LDI) operators to offer lower settlement rates to attract additional incoming traffic in the country.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/01/pakistanis-made-294b-minutes-mobile-calls-in-2012-13/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PakistanToday report on mobile telecom growth in Pakistan:

The voice and SMS ratio per subscriber per month has also notably improved as average cellular mobile subscriber in Pakistan,is making voice calls of 203 minutes per month whereas, generating 214 SMS.

An incredible growth of 43.97% in voice traffic average per user has been witnessed while growth of 7% in SMS use per subscriber was noted during the period.
-------------
The attractive tariff packages with unlimited call offers and discounted minutes have helped generate a record national cellular mobile outgoing traffic of 294.2 billion minutes during year 2012-13. The cellular mobile national outgoing traffic to cellular network has shown a tremendous growth of 52.51% as compared to the same period of previous year 2011-12 in which 192.9 billion minutes were generated. Each passing year has been showing a reasonable growth as the total national cellular mobile outgoing traffic was only 76 billion minutes in 2009-10 and 137.7 billion minutes in 2010-11.

As per new figures issued by regulator Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the massive growth in national cellular mobile outgoing traffic was also contributed by new subscribers in the cellular network during the year and very attractive packages offered by cellular operators to win the subscribers from each other.

Lucrative cellular tariff packages with unlimited call offers and discounted minutes have become a major attraction for the cellular subscribers as the cellular mobile operators adopted aggressive promotional strategies offering attractive packages for Voice, Data and SMS, including free calls and unlimited SMS.

These marketing tactics resulted in more business for companies mainly from voice calls and SMS. Both the voice and SMS traffic has risen during the 2012-13 owing to bundled packages and SMS offers.

During 2012-13, a record 315.7 billion SMSs were exchanged by the mobile consumers, showing an increase of 13.68% from previous year, though the growth rate is lower than corresponding period of previous year but the total figure of SMS exchanged is impressive.

The figures further showed that the national outgoing traffic from mobile to fixed networks remained very low as compared to traffic from mobile to mobile networks. This was mainly due to low tariffs being offered on the same network by operators as well as the huge difference in cellular and fixed line subscriber numbers.

The international outgoing traffic from cellular network has also witnessed a gradual increase and shown a healthy growth of 17.92% by June 2013 contrary to sharp decline of 28.69% for the same period of 2011-12.

The international incoming traffic on cellular networks somewhat declined and showed a negative trend of 10.02% for the year 2012-13 as compared to the year 2010-11. The decrease in international incoming traffic could be due to increase in Access Promotion Contribution (APC) change during 2012-13 from 1.25 US cents to 2.90 US cents, which discouraged Long Distance International (LDI) operators to offer lower settlement rates to attract additional incoming traffic in the country.


http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2014/01/pakistanis-made-294b-minutes-mobile-calls-in-2012-13/