Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pakistan Tops Text Messaging Growth

With cellular phone penetration exceeding 50%, the Pakistan mobile market is continuing to experience rapid subscriber growth with thousands of customers signing up every month. The growth in subscriber rate has consequently led way to triple digit growth in messaging traffic over last year, according to Acision, a major international player in the mobile messaging business.

A total of 6.37 billion text messages were sent through Acision messaging systems across Asia Pacific over the 2008/2009 Christmas and New Year period. The top five countries with the highest SMS traffic processed over the festive season were the Philippines, again leading the ranking with 2.36 billion messages, closely followed by Indonesia (1.193 billion), Malaysia (1.075 billion) and Pakistan (763 million), according to the PC World.

While Pakistan ranks fourth in the total number of text messages sent during Christmas-New Year season of 2008-2009, the country tops the list with 253% annual growth in traffic volume, followed by Philippines (65 percent), Australia (57 percent), Indonesia (27 percent) and Malaysia (13 percent).

The dramatic SMS growth is good news for mobile operators in Pakistan. Most operators around the world continue to rely on text messaging as a critical source of data revenues. A recent report published by Pyramid Research says that mobile data will account for 29 percent of the global mobile service revenue in 2012, up from 19 percent in 2007. Clearly, the mobile data opportunity is soaring: the 2007 mobile data revenue was more than double what it was in 2004, and Pyramid Research expects it to double again to $300 billion by 2012.

SMS will continue to generate the highest share of global mobile data revenue through 2012 and will make a larger impact in emerging markets. However, SMS revenue as a percentage of mobile data revenue will decline throughout the forecast period, as other data services - made possible by the rollout of next generation networks - gain further traction.

In addition to continuing growth in traditional cellular messaging and infrastructure, Pakistan is going through a major roll-out of WiMax by several mobile operators. According to Fierce Broadband Wireless, the largest mobile WiMAX deployments reported during first-quarter 2008 were from Korea Telecom with nearly 150,000 subscribers and Wateen Telecom (Pakistan) with more than 10,000 subscribers at the end of that quarter. Wateen is today the largest mobile WiMAX Motorola deployment. In June 2006, Wateen placed an order for 198,000 CPEs from Motorola. Motorola has shipped 60,000 CPEs so far. Wateen has told Fierce that they had 25,000 subscribers by the end of June 2008. The operator expects to complete the order of 198,000 CPEs by this year. It is expected that the gap between mobile "16e" deployments and "16d" will narrow once trials of 16e equipment are complete and certified equipment becomes widely available.

In emerging markets, 3G and WiMAX will provide Internet connectivity to many consumers for the first time, partly due to a lack of viable fixed alternatives. Asia-Pacific will generate the highest mobile data revenue throughout the forecast period till 2012, and Africa and the Middle East will grow the fastest, according to Pyramid.

Related Links:

Mobile Data Revenue Growth

Pakistan Broadband Overview

Broadband Internet Access in Pakistan

WiMax in Pakistani Cities

WiMax Launch in Pakistan

Mobile Internet

Pakistan's Telecom Boom

Google and Intel Boost Mobile Internet

ITU ICT Development Index

WiMax Continues to Evolve in Pakistan

Motorola to Deploy Mobilink WiMax in Pakistan

WiMax's Last Best Hope

State of Telecom Industry in Pakistan


Anonymous said...

Looks like someone doesn't want to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

Riaz Haq said...


There are enough people like you in the world who choose to talk constantly about nothing but the "elephant in the room". My voice, added to that loud talk of doom and gloom, will just be lost in the growing noise that serves no purpose other than to demoralize the good people of Pakistan who choose to go about doing their best to keep the country moving forward, in spite of all the challenges.

I choose to talk about many other animals in addition to the big ones. Some of the smaller animals are a lot more attractive and noteworthy, and show what else is happening in Pakistan that deserves our attention. There are millions of people in Pakistan, including professionals and entrepreneurs, who are participating in the economy and benefiting from it. A recent and rather gloomy Gallup poll found that fully 11% of the people in Pakistan say they are thriving. That is about 16m people, more than the total population of many countries of the world.

JDèé said...

Riaz Saahib,
Your answer to anon is spot on. You are doing an amazing job highlighting the goods of the country.
I salute you for that.

Anonymous said...

Pass some of the Kool-Aid this way ... :-)

Riaz Haq said...


You already have plenty of your own Kool-Aid.
It seems many of you were on the Kool-Aid drinking binge that was rudely interrupted by Slumdog, a movie was greeted by howls of protests by many people and most of the media in India.

In fact, Pakistanis (including me) are far more self-critical than the the Indians and your western allies promoting the myth of "Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous" image of India in the world.

Anonymous said...

In fact, Pakistanis (including me) ...

Hmmm ... thought you were American - voted Democrat all your life and all that.

... are far more self-critical than the the Indians and your western allies promoting the myth of "Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous" image of India in the world.

Here's a little secret: Pakistanis are not paranoid; everyone really is out to get you. Might as well be self-critical before others get there first no? As for the Indian "myth": must be some pretty strong Kool-Aid for hundreds of millions of Indians and "western allies" to get high on.

Slumdog - proud of it - 8 Oscars - 3 to Indians - no howl of protest from here. The content is one-dimensional and is no secret to anyone who's spent any time in India. If it's a revelation to you, it demonstrates your lack of "facts on the ground".

Riaz Haq said...


As many other hyphenated Americans, I am a Pakistani-American. No conflict there, as far as my own sense of identity is concerned.

As to the Indian Kool-Aid, it is the favorite drink of the urban middle class that has reaped the benefit of India's growth as well as the western media who only know India through this urban middle class. They either don't know or deliberately don't cover the multiple insurgencies in half the states of India. They also don't pay much attention to the 450m desperately poor and hungry Indians who are only counted by the World Hunger Index and find little coverage elsewhere.

It seems you are disconnected from "facts on the ground", not me. I have been to India and ventured out of the tourist traps laid out to hide the real India.

I do applaud you for taking pride in Slumdog, unlike most of your fellow urban Indians, even if you changed your mind after the Oscars.

Anonymous said...

Riaz, I can understand you talking like this if you were sitting in Karachi or Lahore, where your news would be understandably anti-india, but sitting in the US? Do you really believe that slumdog was greeted by 'howls of protest' in India? Is this a lie you keep telling yourself because the oscars were shared by three muslims and a sikh, in a 'Hindu' India?

Can the Indian economic miracle really be an illusion if the economy i still growing at 5%, and while the well regulated banking sector has withstood the meltdown? We are not the ones who went cap in hand to the IMF.

Question: Have you ever visited India? The real one, not the one you read about on your jihadi websites?

We indians know more about the anti india insurgencies than you ever will. If you like, I could suggest some excellent critical Indian authors (and i dont mean you favourite Arundhati), which could significantly enhance your understanding of these issues.

You maybe Pakistani-American with an accent to go with the latter bit, but you write like you are sitting in a cave in Tora Bora.

Riaz Haq said...


You question, "Have you ever visited India? The real one, not the one you read about on your jihadi websites?"

Yes, my views are based on personal observations during my visits to India, and, as a critical consumer of the news and entertainment media, I believe I am well informed.

Apparently, you have missed the harsh criticism of Danny Boyle and Slumdog in India that was widely reported, even Amitabh Bachan chimed in with his displeasure on his blog. Please read my posts about it.

Let me make sure you clearly understand this fact: I am no jihadi and I abhor religious bigots of all kind, whether they are turban-wearing Muslim Taliban or saffron-clad Hindu Taliban. Please get yourself more familiar with my views often expressed in my posts on this subjects.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is the latest teledensity data from ITU:

Both Pakistan (50/100) and Bhutan (37/100) are ahead of India (29/100) in mobile. India might soon be overtaken by Afghanistan (29/100) and even Bangladesh (28/100).

Of course, the fact that Afghanistan is ahead of Bangladesh in mobile penetration should cause all sorts of palpitations in government offices in Dhaka.

Bangladesh was one of the earliest in South Asia to adopt mobile and is the most densely populated country in the world. How they were overtaken by Afghanistan, a war-torn country with difficult terrain, should cause serious re-examination of policies such as the BDT 800 SIM tax. The fact that Afghanistan’s CAGR for 2003-08 is 109%, higher than Bangladesh’s 2003-08 CAGR of 101%, suggests that the gap between the two countries is more likely to increase than decrease.

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 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 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.”
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.”
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...

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.