Tuesday, January 13, 2015

3G-4G Rollout, Data Services Boom in Pakistan

Mobile service operators enjoyed 24% jump in data revenue in fiscal year 2013-14 ended in June. Meanwhile, Pakistanis signed up for 3G and 4G mobile broadband services at a rate of one million per month over the last five months.

The data revenues of mobile phone service operators reached Rs. 47 billion during the year under review, 47.4% year-over-year growth. “This is a healthy sign in the wake of 3G and 4G services in the country and shows that the use of internet and data services on the cellular mobile has been increasing,” according to a recent Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) report.

As of June 30, 2014 data revenues account for 19.3% of the telecom sector’s overall revenue, up from 16.4% at the end of FY13 – the number for cellular segment, too, increased from 7.3% to 10.1%.

The increased use of social media messaging apps negatively impacted text messaging growth as the SMS volume declined to 301.7 billion during FY2014, down 4% compared to 315.7 billion in 2013. The average monthly SMS per subscriber volume was down to 180 in FY14 compared to 214 of FY13.

PTA reported that each cellular subscriber in the country has 2.17 SIMs on average, which translates to an actual monthly ARPU (per user revenue) of Rs 432.

Mobile broadband roll-out and double-digit growth in data revenue are expected to enable a whole new Internet-based economy with growth of mobile apps from social media, education, health care,  entertainment, financial services and e-commerce to government services in Pakistan.

3G/4G Subscriber Update As Of January 2015:

Source: Telecompaper.com

Pakistan ended January with over 9.07 million 3G/4G subscribers, up from 5.71 million in December 2014, according to data from Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA). Telenor led the 3G/4G market with over 2.25 million subscribers, followed by Ufone (2.25 million 3G/4G subscribers), Mobilink (2.17 million 3G/4G subscribers), and CMPak (1.85 million 3G subscribers and 5,023 4G customers) Warid had 44,075 LTE network subscribers at 31 January 2015.

Related Links:


salim said...

There are many problems with the current situation. In simpler words, there are bands (frequencies) for 3G and 4G technologies — just like radio frequencies — and operators in Pakistan operate their 3G networks in 2100Mhz band only. Now 3G smartphones that doesn’t offer 3G network compatibility in 2100 band will simply not work in Pakistan.

When you buy Redmi or others make sure the band is correct. We are seeing many problems.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan bucks the trend in declining PC sales in MENA region:

PC sales in Africa and the Middle East (AME) will decline by 2% in 2014, with sales remaining flat to slightly negative for the next five years, according to new research by International Data Corp (IDC).

This is despite a positive third quarter in 2014, when the market expanded by 2,1% in volume terms year on year to reach 4,26m units. The grow was spurred in large part by two significant education orders in Pakistan and the revival of the Egyptian market.

Growth on the third quarter was seen across both the desktop and portable PC segments, IDC said. Desktop shipments to AME increased by 3,6% year on year to 1,73 million units, while shipments of portable PCs were up by 1,1% to 2,53m units.

“The market overcame ongoing instability in certain parts of the region to maintain its state of growth in the third quarter of 2014,” said Fouad Rafiq Charakla, research manager for personal computing, systems and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Turkey and Africa. “For example, the Nigerian market was hit hard by the outbreak of Ebola, while the war-like situation in Iraq greatly inhibited shipments to the ‘rest of the Middle East’ sub-region comprising Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine and Afghanistan.”

PC makers also had to contend with a general slowdown in PC demand across the region due to the growing popularity of tablets and smartphones, said Charakla. “Indeed, an overall regional decline was only averted by the delivery of 150 000 notebooks into Pakistan’s education sector and the return of relative calm to Egypt, which saw these two countries become by far the fastest growing markets during the quarter.”

The three leading PC vendors in AME remained unchanged from the previous quarter. Hewlett-Packard continued to lead in market share, posting year-on-year unit growth of 14,4% for the quarter. Second-placed Lenovo continued to benefit from strong consumer demand and was again the fastest growing major PC vendor in the region, increasing its shipments by 58,2% year on year. Third-ranked Dell recorded 23% year-on-year growth, with one of the education deals in Pakistan serving as a major driver of sales.

Despite this, IDC expects the AME PC market to shrink by 2% overall in 2014. “The market will remain close to flat over the coming five years, and may even experience some minor declines, with demand for both desktops and portable PCs continuing to slow in many parts of the region. However, a number of underpenetrated markets — including Egypt, Pakistan, Nigeria and some smaller African countries — will continue to experience growth, preventing the overall region from experiencing any significant declines.” — © 2014 NewsCentral Media


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), Pakistan s largest telecommunication services provider, has inked an agreement with Soneri Bank to provide Data Center hosting services.

PTCL Data Center, the only certified Tier 3 Data Center in Pakistan, will serve Soneri Bank s integrated branch banking operations spanning over 250 branches.

Kamal Ahmed, Chief Digital Services Officer, PTCL said at the occasion We are pleased to extend cooperation to Soneri Bank to provide better services to its customers. PTCL business solutions are designed to enable growth and the company is striving to empower organizations and improve efficiencies through its endtoend ICT solutions.

Our stateoftheart Data Centers offer optimum network security and profitability, thus helping organizations to move up the value chain, added Kamal Ahmed.

Muhammad Aftab Manzoor, President & CEO, Soneri Bank said at the occasion, The synergy of PTCL with Soneri Bank is a welcomed combination to achieve our goal to deliver exceptional client experiences through improved operational efficiency.

Senior management from both the organizations including Kamal Ahmed, Chief Digital Services Officer, PTCL; M. Aftab Manzoor, President & CEO, Soneri Bank; Amin A. Feerasta, Chief Risk Officer, Soneri Bank; Ahmed Saqib Asad, Chief Information Officer, Soneri Bank; Noman Muzaffar, Head Infrastructure Services, Soneri Bank and Mirza Sajid Baig, General Manager Corporate Services, PTCL were present at the occasion.

PTCL is the leader in the corporate digital services that provide large networkbased organizations with greater efficiency through its seamless ICT services.


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has imported record US$ 544 million of cellular mobile handsets and US$ 682 million worth of telecom equipment during last one year, registering 20.7 percent and 30.3 percent increase respectively.
During the year, both operators as well as cellular mobile customers prepared themselves for 3G and 4G services. The operators upgraded their telecom networks and systems while subscribers opted to shift to smartphones to enjoy such services.
According to latest telecom stats, overall, the telecom imports crossed the mark of US$ 1.23 billion, of which 44.4 percent was for imports of consumer items i.e. cellular mobile handsets.
The telecom experts on Tuesday said there is a dire need for deployment of local manufacturing plant to reduce import bill.
It is now vital to develop local industry for telecom equipments and handsets with cooperation of regional partners engaged in telecom manufacturing.


Riaz Haq said...

HBL signed agreements with MasterCard and Monet for the rollout of the first Mobile Point-of-Sale (mPOS) service in the country.

The signing ceremony was held at HBL’s head office in Karachi between Mr. Faiq Sadiq (Head – Payment Services, HBL), Mr. Aurangzaib Khan (Country Manager – Pakistan & Afghanistan, MasterCard) and Mr. Abbas Sikander (Chief Executive Officer, Monet).

The mPOS solution that HBL is launching will enable micro and small merchants to accept credit, debit and prepaid cards as payment, and can also integrate with the complex back end systems of larger retailers to provide a robust mobile POS solution.

The mPOS technology “Swipe2Pay”, powered by Monet, is a low-cost solution which will help facilitate fast and secure card payments and drive card acceptance across the country.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Faiq Sadiq said, “HBL is proud to be the first bank in Pakistan to rollout the mPOS technology which will cater both to the consumer and merchant’s need for a faster, more convenient and cost effective way to pay and be paid. It will also enable payment automation in merchant segments which are not effectively covered by conventional POS today.”


Riaz Haq said...

From Jakarta Post:

Four years ago, newspapers in India published the intriguing news that their government was likely to benefit from the changes in base year for calculating gross domestic product (GDP) data, as the change would render the fiscal deficit much lower than projected.

Neighboring Pakistan then amplified the issue by stating that it explained a statistical paradox on living standards between the two countries. This January, India will again rebase its GDP with a newer base year, and the sneaking suspicion regarding who will benefit remains.

Last April, Nigeria, meanwhile, gained the status of the largest economy in Africa, surpassing South Africa after changing its GDP base year from 1990 to 2010. The Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics said that the change would better represent the current structure of the economy.

As a result, Nigerian GDP almost doubled compared with when it was calculated from a 1990 base year.

Indonesia is set for a similar occurrence with the upcoming economic growth announcement in February. GDP, the main element to measure economic growth, will appear in a new base year: 2010.

The year 2000 has been used as a base year for 14 years, or 56 quarters of GDP calculation. Since the base year is essential to develop GDP, it should be renewed or rebased when the economic structure can no longer be appropriately represented by the current base year.

However, changing the base year requires a lot of effort and money, especially in developing countries where administrative data are not yet sufficiently available.

Taking these points into consideration, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) has decided to rebase GDP from base year 2000 to base year 2010. The base years prior to 2000 were 1993, 1983, 1973 and 1960.

Resetting the base year is usually accompanied by introducing a new classification of GDP components, either components in GDP by expenditure or GDP by industry. Every change in base year usually presents more detailed component classifications of GDP.

More importantly, rebasing usually changes GDP levels because of improvement in methodology, coverage and data source quality. As the result, the level of GDP will likely rise.

After changing the base year from 1993 to 2000 a decade ago, Indonesian GDP in 2000 at current prices was Rp 1.27 quadrillion (US$100.64 billion) using 1993 as the base year, but higher by 9.87 percent using 2000 as the base year. This means there was an additional Rp 125 trillion in nominal GDP amount for the same economy.

Changing the base year from 1983 to 1993, GDP for the year 1993 also came out in two versions. The first version based on 1983 amounted to Rp 302 trillion and the second version based on 1993 totaled Rp 329 trillion, an increase of Rp 27 trillion.

However, the economic growth figure will not be affected significantly, neither upward nor downward. Rebasing mostly affects the size of the economy, not the growth.

This is because as regards the growth, the principle of comparability should be applied as a new set of items can only be compared with another new set of items. Put briefly, an apple can only be compared with an apple.

Nevertheless, the above statement is open to criticism. This is because new data coverage added to the GDP calculation will surely bring a new set of commodities.

And as new commodities, they stick to the rule of industrial life cycles, which states that new commodities grow more quickly than old commodities.

Consequently, overall growth will likely be higher than the old series, although in many cases, the difference is negligible.

- See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/01/21/indonesia-change-base-year-cui-bono.html#sthash.qOL0aMMt.dpuf

Riaz Haq said...

Telecom service provider Telenor Pakistan has achieved 2.6 million 3G subscribers in 73 cities.

The company has launched 3G services in Pabbi, Karak, Sheikhupura, Toba Tek Singh, Lakki Marwat, Mianwali, Khyber Agency and Vihari during the current phase of commercial rollout.

Telenor Pakistan will offer free trial of 3G services — 50 MBs of free data every day — to customers in these newly added areas for two weeks.

The company will be charging 2G data services as usual.

Telenor Pakistan is following a two-fold strategy to roll out 3G sites across the country.

First, the telecom operator will increase the number of 3G sites within a city thus expanding the in-city coverage. Second, it will increase the number of 3G cities across the country.

“We will strengthen network reach and stay committed towards building an ecosystem to further facilitate 3G growth in the country,” said Irfan Wahab Khan, chief marketing officer, Telenor Pakistan.

In 2013, Telenor Pakistan invested substantially in modernizing its telecom network including base station equipment, value-added service platforms, among other things. Telenor Pakistan selected telecom equipments which are 24 percent more energy efficient and possessed intelligent power management features with reduced power consumption.


Riaz Haq said...

While the two-year delay in bringing 3G to Pakistan (the date was initially set to be in 2012), helped MNOs build momentum for this next generation mobile technology, increasing smartphone penetration is the most essential component in driving 3G and 4G adoption. Those MNOs which are able to increase smartphone penetration on their networks will enjoy better 3G network ROI in the long run.

Here are some trends:

Established players like QMobile need to look into the possibility of going beyond Android devices and moving into the Windows platform as well.
Apple will be coming to Pakistan with a complete after- sales service support structure. This is the ideal time for Apple to make an official entry given that 92% of the market is still on 2G despite the fact that five MNOs are now offering high speed internet services. According to market intelligence, Apple has signed up local distributors and the next step might be for the company to adopt an operator led distribution model.
Samsung enjoys the largest share in the $150 plus handset category and the company is looking at making ecommerce an active channel (an indication is its recent partnership with Daraz, whereby the website is Samsung’s official online retail partner). Given that Apple is not active in the $300 to $500 category, Samsung will continue to enjoy supremacy in this category. The battle between Samsung and Apple will be in the $500+ category.
Huawei has taken the 3G challenge head-on. The company has shut down 2G feature phone manufacturing and is concentrating on developing 3G enabled devices. As a result, Huawei has increased its media spend in 2014 (which had so far been limited to trade marketing) and is strengthening its distributor network.
In terms of new entrants, the most prominent is Lenovo. A huge name in laptops, Lenovo’s smartphones have been backed by favourable product reviews internationally. In order to have a strong market entry, the company’s first move was to hire Arif Shafique, one of the top people from Nokia for its device business.
In line with its global strategy, Microsoft is in the process of consolidating by focusing on Windows-based Lumia devices. In the light of past experience, Microsoft will be very aggressive in terms of leveraging partnerships with device manufacturers, telecom operators and app developers.
Here are some of the opportunities that device manufacturers will be leveraging, either on their own or in partnership with other industry players.

Device theft and loss coverage will become a highly attractive new sales proposition, although if theft validation is not handled properly, there is a huge probability of fraudulent claims.
The launch of instalment based smartphone/data bundled plans either via financial institutions or with MNO support.
MNO led low-end 3G devices and device data bundled propositions will continue.
Device manufacturers will use their strong footprint of experience centres to facilitate after sales support services.
The launch of innovative local apps with R&D support by device manufacturers.
Integration of operator billing with device manufacturers’ app stores. As an example, Mobilink has partnered with Nokia and Android.


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s 2nd Annual Start-Up Cup competition launched

To promote and assist the local entrepreneurships across the country, the 2015 Pakistan Start-Up Cup, an intensive, nationwide business competition launched here on Saturday.

The Start-Up Cup is locally driven business model competition open to any idea. This innovative community-based approach is designed to increase the quality and quality of entrepreneurs in the community.
The US Embassy in Islamabad and the Islamabad Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Chapter, in collaboration with the US Pakistan Women’s Council, launched the 2015 Pakistan Start-Up Cup, an intensive, nationwide business competition. Entrepreneurs selected to participate in Start-Up Cup will receive coaching through multi-day “Build-a-Business” workshops and regular mentoring to help turn their ideas into a commercial reality. Prize money of $10,000, $7,500, and $5,000 will be awarded to the winner and two runners-ups with the best Start Up concept.
At the opening ceremony, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Islamabad Thomas E Williams, said, “Programs like Start Up Cup foster greater inclusiveness in Pakistan’s economy, particularly for women. The entrepreneurial solutions that arise from competitions such as Start-Up Cup foster inclusiveness, grow economies, promote stability, expand the international supply chain, and spread the exchange of ideas.”
Over the course of the seven-month programe, aspiring Pakistani entrepreneurs will learn to design viable business models, develop customers, and launch their start-up business concepts in the marketplace.
This year’s programme will build on the success of last year’s Start-Up Cup, which saw over 400 entrepreneurs compete for one of the top three prizes. Last year’s winning team went on to defeat 170 other entrepreneurs to win the first-ever World Start-Up Cup competition in Yerevan, Armenia.
The 2015 Start-Up Cup in Pakistan will introduce new partnerships with entrepreneurship centres across Pakistan, including the world’s first Women’s Entrepreneurial Centre of resources, education, access, and training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) in Islamabad sponsored by the US Department of State in collaboration with the US Pakistan Women’s Council; the Lahore University for Management Science (LUMS) Centre for Entrepreneurship; and Karachi-based technology incubator “The Nest I/O.”
The partnerships between Start-Up Cup and these centres will ensure that newly established businesses receive sustained support and mentoring, essential tools for long-term success. Numerous US Embassy programmes assist Pakistan’s entrepreneurs by increasing their access to financial resources, supporting opportunities for entrepreneurship education, and nurturing an entrepreneurial culture.
There are four base stations for this program, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi with overall prize money of Rs22.5 million.
During the opening ceremony esteemed businessman and Islamabad TiE Board member Imtiaz Rastgar said, “StartUp Cup has only came to Pakistan two years ago and already tremendous feats have been achieved as new voices and ingenious minds have been brought to the fore. One can only imagine how much advantage this competition will bring as the years progress”.


Riaz Haq said...

Startups in Asia – or any other developed country, for that matter – often complain of a lack of talent in their respective countries. Yet Pakistan boasts of a massive freelancing population. In 2013, there were reportedly 2 million Pakistani freelancers on oDesk, making it the fifth largest contributor globally. oDesk vice president Matt Cooper told The Express Tribune that the “quality of projects delivered by Pakistani freelancers is at par with our top freelancer countries from around the globe.”

Pakistan is slowly but surely joining the high-speed internet world as well. It was late to the game with 3G and 4G mobile services. The latter arrived only in April last year, but ended 2014 with close to 8 million subscribers – slightly more than Singapore, who first got 4G in early-2013. Meanwhile, another 15 million people access the internet from their mobile phones – that’s half of the total number of internet users in the country. It is expected that the number of broadband subscribers will rise to 45 million by 2020.

There are a number of local startups who have made a name for themselves on the world stage, too. Enterprise social network Convo, who raised US$5 million from a US-based VC firm Morgenthaler Ventures in 2013, is widely hailed as an example of Pakistani ingenuity. Morgenthaler Ventures has invested in big names such as Apple and Evernote.

Fashion-with-a-mission startup Popinjay has produced a series of high-end handbags that have received rave reviews from several national and international media platforms, and even in fashion shows. Online car portal PakWheels also recently grabbed US$3.5 million from Malaysia-based VC Frontier Digital Ventures.

See: Popinjay dreams of making poverty a thing of the past for Pakistani women
More importantly, the high-flying founders of these startups constantly mentor and give advice to the next generation in local startup programs and competitions, of which there are many.

The pieces are in place
Tech in Asia held its first meetup event in Lahore at Arfa Software Technology Park, a grey mass of buildings that we would end up spending most of our time in. Security here is tight – my colleagues and I passed through a grand total of four checks before getting the all-clear, and were asked where we were from multiple times.

Jazib Zahir, founder of games studio Tintash, tells us that it is generally the case for establishments that the government considers to be of national importance. Despite being a regular in the premises, Zahir himself had to show his identification card along for verification purposes, as did other locals.

Much like Singapore’s Block 71, these buildings are home to many local startups, many of which are housed in the resident accelerators and incubators. These organizations account for many of the current batch of budding Pakistani startups, and hence quite literally hold up the local startup ecosystem.

The Punjab Information Technology Board – a governmental body – is responsible for the development of two key programs located here: PlanX and Plan9. As the names suggest, the two are close relatives – PlanX is an accelerator born out of Plan9’s incubation program. While the latter focuses on idea-stage startups, only those who have a product and are looking to expand further can join the former.

A round of introductions at PlanX’s quaint working space reveals startups with raw but fascinating products. Several of them have in fact gone on show and won accolades at international startup events, such as Startup Turkey and Startup Asia – these trips are fully sponsored by the government. PlanX’s BookMe, for example, was one of the finalists at Tech in Asia’s Arena competition in Jakarta last year.


Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan clinches Spectrum for Mobile Broadband Award 2015 #WorldMobileCongress #3G #4G http://tribune.com.pk/story/847230/pakistan-clinches-spectrum-for-mobile-broadband-award-2015/ …

BARCELONA: In a significant development for the telecommunication sector in the country, Pakistan was awarded the “Spectrum for Mobile Broadband Award 2015” at the Mobile World Congress 2015 of the GSM Association held in Barcelona, Spain.
Pakistan was awarded for successfully auctioning spectrum for 3G/4G services in the 850 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands in 2014, and thereafter the rapid uptake of 3G services in the country.
“The award to Pakistan is an indication of the global community reposing its trust in the telecommunication sector policy practices of the Government of Pakistan,” a statement from the Ministry of State for Information Technology quoted minister Anusha Rehman.
The award is one of the two annual mobile excellence awards given as recognition of growth of the mobile industry in the country.
​The minister in her key note address said that in a short span of 6 to 8 months since launch of 3G/4G services in Pakistan, mobile broadband subscriptions for 3G stand at around 10 million.
“The Spectrum auction for next generation mobile services has not only enabled the people to gain access to mobile broadband services but has also encouraged investment in mobile networks in Pakistan,” said Rehman.
The minister added that the introduction of 3G and 4G services in Pakistan was a step forward towards creating an ‘accelerated digitisation ecosystem’ with special emphasis on ‘Bridging Broadband Divide’.
She said the government has accorded the highest priority to the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) and applications for the provision of quality services, education, employment generation, and women empowerment.
Rehman is currently leading a delegation of Pakistan at the annual GSMA Mobile World Congress, being held in Barcelona, Spain.

Riaz Haq said...

Xiaomi smartphone in Pakistan:

The Xiaomi Mi Note is one of the hottest smartphones on the market that you can’t get in the U.S. The phone, a stiff competitor to Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy and Note lines in China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Pakistan -- basically every market but the U.S. and Europe -- has its own Android-based software ecosystem, MIUI 6, which happens to look a lot like Apple Inc.’s iOS. That’s part of its appeal: a phone that is every bit as beautiful as an iPhone, but for hundreds of dollars less.

Xiaomi had a whirlwind 2014, with a whopping 61 million handsets shipped. The smartphone maker now has Google Inc. on its toes, concerned that the distant competitor, known more for its software and services than its devices, could drive customers away from its Google Play offerings. Xiaomi has also surpassed consumer-electronics behemoth Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. as the largest mobile manufacturer in China in terms of shipments to the country, according to the International Data Corp.

Xiaomi was gracious enough to let me review its latest and greatest smartphone. So take that, Apple and Samsung: a Xiaomi phone in the U.S.

The Xiaomi Mi Note features a 5.7-inch Full HD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chip, 3 GB of random-access memory, 16 GB and 64 GB internal storage options, a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 4-megapixel front camera and the Android 4.4.4 KitKat OS with Xiaomi’s MIUI 6 interface. The device sells for 2,299 yuan ($371), making it hundreds of dollars cheaper than a base-model iPhone.

First Impressions

The Xiaomi Mi Note is thin, light and quite compact for a phablet with a 5.7-inch display (it’s about the same width as the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus). Some aren’t enamored with the thinness of the Mi Note (less than 7 millimeters), but it’s a plus in my book. The Mi Note is nice to hold, but the all-glass exterior can be slippery. The back panel appears to be made of the same Gorilla Glass as its front display, which gives it a nice premium look. But glass back panels are prone to shattering when handsets are dropped.


Riaz Haq said...

Haier Pakistan has announced that it will start a mobile phone assembling and production facility in the country by the end of 2015.

While talking to More Magazine, Mr. Afridi said,”we will invest some $8 million in 2015 for expanding our mobile phone division and with the expertise of our Chinese friend, Haier will generate employment for more than 800 people in its production facility”.

“We are not relying on importing mobile phones from China but our focus is the transfer of technology in the country so that we could manufacture our own product here. We have already started an assembly line for the laptops in Pakistan”, added Afridi.

Today, Haier Pakistan assembles some 2000 laptops in Pakistan every month which it mainly produces for Prime Minister Laptop Distribution Scheme. The company plans to enhance the capacity by the end of 2015 when it starts production for the masses.

Pakistan is a market of 2.5 million mobile phones that are imported every month. Afridi foresees that with the introduction of Haier mobile phones in the country, the figure will go up by 30% by the end of current year.

To a question about the quality of phones, Afridi responded as, “after the entry of Haier mobile phones into the market, non-branded and weak quality phones will be filtered out in the first phase. We are eyeing to position our product with the brands like Huawei and Apple”.

“One needs to feel the product that we are providing now. No other brand in Pakistan has created the eco-system that we have designed for our customers. Our phones will be integrated with other Haier’s electronic products available in the market”, added Afridi

Haier Pakistan has announced three categories of handsets including feature phones, mid-level and high-level smartphones.

It is yet to be seen the actual performance of the company in a new and different market which is much volatile than home appliances business. However, with the initiatives like Haier, a very positive message for the foreign investors is certainly on the wall.


Riaz Haq said...

Mobile Data Usage in Pakistan Grows 600% During 2014

http://propakistani.pk/2015/04/20/mobile-data-usage-in-pakistan-grows-600-during-2014/ … via @ProPakistaniPK

Cellular data consumption — after the auction of 3G/4G spectrum — is witnessing an exponential growth in Pakistan, revealed Dr. Ismail Shah, Chairman PTA, during his keynotes at recently held road-show organized by Nokia Networks.

Dr. Ismail Shah revealed that Pakistani mobile phone users consumed a total of 6,840 tera-bytes (TBs) of data during December 2014, up from just 1,243 tera-bytes (TBs) during January 2014 showing almost 600% growth in data usage.

Riaz Haq said...

In April 2014, Islamabad took a giant leap forward by auctioning the mobile spectrum for third-generation (3G) and 4G technologies. This April, the country’s telecom market went through another major breakthrough that is likely to spur the growth of mobile broadband across Pakistan.

The breakthrough under discussion is the recent deal between Warid Telecom and Towershare – a leading operator of wireless communications infrastructure with focus on Middle East North Africa and South Asia region.

Under the deal, Towershare will acquire 4,500 base transceiver station (BTS) towers, commonly known as mobile towers, of Warid Telecom, Propakistani reported earlier this month.

Shortly after that, Toweshare, which buys, builds, maintains and operates telecom tower infrastructures, entered into another agreement with Ufone to help the latter expand its coverage to remote areas of the country.

Under the agreement, Towershare will rent spaces to Ufone on cell sites that they will build.

The Dubai-based telecom towers company, according to market talk, will be signing an agreement with all five operators, which is likely to trigger the growth of mobile penetration – especially broadband.

In the past, telecom operators in Pakistan have tried to build mobile towers themselves, but it has not worked because of the huge costs attached to the rollout and maintenance of these mobile towers. Even globally, it is always independent tower companies that eventually buy telecom towers.

Towershare’s entry in the Pakistani market and aggressive expansion plans are therefore very beneficial for both the industry and consumers because of the advantages attached to infrastructure sharing.

The advantage for all

With an independent company taking care of the critical infrastructure, the cellular service providers can focus on other aspects of business and cut their expenses – that is the operators can save on high capital and operational expenditures associated with maintenance of mobile towers.

Tower sharing will also help service providers enter underserved areas of the country by setting up connectivity with mobile towers built by a third party.

Moreover, tower sharing will reduce the environmental impact of network expansion, which means only one mobile tower can be shared by all operators eliminating the need for having five different towers, minimising the visual impact of towers in surrounding areas.

It will also help reduce power consumption in terms of fuel and generators required to sustain independent dedicated networks. The tower-sharing model, according to sources, has the potential to reduce 200MW of power requirements of Pakistan – enough to power multiple industrial complexes.

In short, tower sharing helps reduce the cost of providing services to remote or difficult areas, ensuring that millions of people get the services that are otherwise not available.

For a country like Pakistan, this is a welcome development for it will help expedite the growth of mobile network to far flung areas – one aspect that the country has been lacking.

Despite its robust and investment friendly regulatory environment, the country’s broadband penetration remains under 10% or 12 million as of March, 2015.

With Towershare taking responsibility of building new cell sites, the network expansion will be swift because all the operators will need to do is to share space on rental basis, not to mention the foreign direct investment the country will attract towards infrastructure development – the company has already pledged an investment of $400 million towards building new towers, according to sources familiar with the matter.


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan tech on the rise

Pakistan rarely makes the news for its technological progress or contributions to the tech world at large. Sadly it is better known for its civil unrest, homegrown terrorists, and extremist violence. But the country is encouraging a growing faction of entrepreneurs in technology, and is not to be left out of the evolving tech scene. Despite an internet penetration level of under 15% as of last year according to Internet World Stats, some are looking to the country’s startup culture and its lack of legacy infrastructure to help it develop a successful technology industry.

Startup accelerator Invest2Innovate (i2i) has been supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners for a few years now; Tech in Asia reports this week that the accelerator has mentored 16 young businesses. Graduate startups from i2i have raised US$700,000 in investment so far — what seems like a paltry sum to Silicon Valley tech, but the accelerator is boosting jobs and advancing interest in tech. In December of last year, Kalsoom Lakhani, founder and CEO of i2i commented on the movement towards supporting technological innovations in Pakistan for The Next Web: “A number of Pakistan-based technology entrepreneurs – many of whom have had some exposure to well-developed ecosystems like Silicon Valley, New York or London – have been and remain deeply committed to growing this space, often participating as judges, mentors, advisors and investors to competitions, incubators/accelerators and startups.” The accelerator has plans for expanding into other countries as well.

Other startups have gained international recognition, particularly gaming-based businesses. The lack of internet penetration in Pakistan is certainly a hindrance to native tech adoption, but that has not stopped game developers from becoming popular with players and users in other countries. And tech like social gaming is important for developing tech culture as it promotes connecting with users through digital forums. Despite rampant poverty throughout Pakistan, there is growing interest in what internet connection has to offer. Figures like Mariam Adil — a woman at the forefront of Pakistan’s tech entrepreneur scene and startup culture — have become famous for promoting the country’s vested interest in gaming, social technology, and web-based development.

Yet, obvious obstacles remain. One of them being the government’s work to tightly control cyber culture within the country. In late April, the parliament examined a proposed bill entitled The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2015, which would allow the government to censor content and criminalize certain web-based activity under broad parameters. The bill would also allow the government to access data on individual users without any judicial processes. Such legislation mirrors the behavior of Pakistan’s neighbor China. Perhaps the country has been taking notes. No doubt, as startups gain ground in Pakistan, there will be an inevitable pushback against laws that strictly regulate internet use.


Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan figures prominently among major growth markets in #InternetTrends 2015 report by Kleiner Perkins @kpcb

Internet Penetration 11%, Mobile phones owned by 144 million out of 196 million population. Only 6% own smartphones. Opportunity for strong growth with 3G, 4G rollout done in 2014.


Riaz Haq said...

#Facebook, #Telenor launch #Internet.org in #Pakistan, Browse 17 Websites for Free http://propakistani.pk/2015/05/28/internet-org-launched-in-pakistan-browse-17-websites-for-free-on-telenor/ … via @ProPakistaniPK

As we told you yesterday, Telenor, in collaboration with Facebook today launched internet.org initiative in Pakistan, with which all Telenor customers — both prepaid and postpaid — will be able to use selected internet websites for free.

Telenor launched the program with 17 websites today, which are available for free unlimited browsing. However, external links, if any, will be charged as per usual tariffs.

Launch event or internet.org was attended by high-ups of Telenor Pakistan, including Michael Foley, CEO, Telenor, Irfan Wahab, Deputy CEO, Telenor Pakistan and Aslam Hayat Khan, VP, Telenor Pakistan.

Facebook officials, lead by Ime Archibong, Global Head for Strategic Partnerships at Facebook, in first of its kind representation from Facebook in Pakistan, were also present at the event.

Telenor has said that its internet.org initiative is aimed for first time internet users. Company has said that its currently not looking at any business proposition, instead the whole initiative is targeted to convert more users to internet.

Here is the list of websites that can be browsed for free:

Facebook, Telenor Mobile Portal, AccuWeather, Babycenter & MAMA, BBC News, Bing, ESPN Cricinfo, Facts for Life, Girl Effect, IlmkiDunya, Malaria No More, Mustakbil, OLX, Telenor News, UrduPoint Cooking and Wikipedia

Telenor users, in whatever city they are or whatever package they are on (postpaid included) can go to internet.org from their cell phones to access these websites. While accessing internet.org website, users will be presented a list of websites they can access for free.

Alternatively, if you are smartphone user, you can download internet.org app from your respective app store an use it.

Any usage with-in internet.org website (or the app) will be free.

Both 3G and 2G users can access internet.org for free, and there is no need to subscribe or activate anything. You can start browsing internet.org for free, right away!


Riaz Haq said...

The mobile phone imports into the country increased by 13.06 percent to US $539.583 million during first nine months of the year 2014-15 over the same period of last year’s imports of $477.255 million. On month on month and year on year basis, the cell phone import in March also increased by 1.05 percent and 64.94 percent when compared to the import in February 2015 and March 2014 respectively, according to the data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). The mobile phone import during March 2015 stood at $73.929 million against the import of $73.161 million in February 2015 and $44.822 million in March 2014. Similarly, the overall telecom imports also increased by 14.70 percent during July-March (2014-15) over the same period of last year. The imports of telecom into the country during first nine months of current fiscal year were recorded at $1.071 billion against the imports of $933.543 million in July-March 2014-15. On year on year basis, the telecom imports telecom imports in March increased by 8.46 percent from $100.144 million in March 2014 to $108.619 percent in March this year whereas on month on month basis the telecom imports decreased from $115.454 million in February 2015 to $108.619 million in March 2015 thus showing 5.92 percent decrease.


Riaz Haq said...

MS Mobile Windows Lumia #smartphones sales in #Pakistan increased over 300% in Q1

http://www.gsmarena.com/lumia_sales_in_pakistan_increased_300_in_q1-news-12561.php … via @gsmarena_com

The quarter-over-quarter sales of Lumia devices more than tripled in Pakistan in Q1, 2015, according to Patrick Mercanton, head of marketing for Near-East, North Africa, Levant and Emerging Asia for Microsoft Mobile Devices.

“Considering our primary goal is to enhance the growth of the Windows Phone ecosystem through Lumia smartphone activations, it certainly is a great achievement for us and showcases the appetite in Pakistan for a third smartphone ecosystem other than Android and iOS,” he said, adding that the Lumia 535 was the highest selling smartphone in the region.
He also revealed that the company holds over half of the feature phone market in Pakistan, and that Windows Phone is now the second most popular mobile OS in the country, ahead of Apple's iOS - the top spot is claimed by Google's Android.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan telecom sector revenues to touch Rs 600 billion($ 6 billion) in 2015 with #Internet revenue surge. #3G #4G http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/business/21-Jun-2015/telecom-sector-revenues-likely-to-touch-rs-600-billion …

Telecom sector revenues are likely to touch Rs 600 billion in the current financial year 2014-15 with the tremendous surge in consumption of telephony services and 3G/4G technology by customers, including significant savings of the companies on account of operational expenditures.

Economic Survey of Pakistan for 2014-15 revealed that revenues of the telecom sector increased to Rs 299 billion in the first half from July to December 2014. This is first time the sector recorded handsome values of earning historically.

The estimated revenues growth is likely in between Rs 580 billion and Rs 600 billion, which will be more than Rs100 billion from the previous fiscal year of 2013-14, which posted the revenue growth of Rs 465.5 billion.

In 2012-13, the telecom sector posted a growth of Rs 439.5 billion and Rs 409.2 billion in 2011-12, respectively.

On the account of savings of cellular phone sector, their operational cost reduced significantly, as similar to multiple service sectors, including decline in petroleum prices, reduce electricity tariff and Rupee appreciation against Dollar.

Oil prices went down to 34.6 percent from October 2014 to February 2015. The petrol prices go down to around Rs 70.29 per litre from Rs 103.62 per litre whereas diesel prices also declined to Rs 80.61 per liter from Rs 108.34 per litre.

Petrol and diesel are mainly used by the telecom for purpose of transportation of infrastructure, backup fuel supplies to power generators to BTS (cellular sites).

The electricity is the major head of operational expenditure of cellular phone companies which reduced drastically in the past six months subsequently the prices of electricity went down on the lower prices of furnace oil.

For instance, power tariff of all distribution companies were reduced twice by Rs 4.43 per unit and Rs 3.24 per unit in April and February during the period of last six months. Similarly, the power tariff decreased in the city of biggest subscribers base Karachi for customers including commercial sector slashed by Rs7.40 per unit from April 2014 to February 2015 whereas it further reduced the tariff by Rs 1.74 per unit under the head of fuel adjustment.

The survey commented that the availability of 3G and 4G services has enabled development of new applications and data base services, and people of Pakistan are quickly adopting to these new technologies and services. This has resulted in surge in data revenues of cellular mobile industry, reaching Rs. 37.3 billion during July-December, 2014 compared to Rs. 22.1 billion in July-December, 2013, showing an increase of 69 percent.

The Survey forecasted that revenues are expected to further increase in the coming years as more subscribers are added into the 3G and 4G LTE fraternity, generating more data revenues of telecom industry.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Telecommunication Company limited (PTCL) has introduced a 4G LTE tablet dubbed ‘CharJi Evo Tab’. The dual-SIM tablet provides LTE speeds of up to 36 Mbps and enables customers to access voice connectivity through GSM SIMs just like a mobile phone. The device features a 6.98 inch screen, 2 GB RAM and Quad Core processor. The tablet also includes 16 GB in-built and 64 GB external memory support, 8-megapixel rear camera and 2-megapixel front camera.

The CharJi Evo Tab is available for PKR 25,000. Customers who acquire the device will also receive a bonus of 5 GB CharJi LTE data and 15,000 Ufone on-net minutes, valid for 3 months and a free 1-year subscription to its Smart TV app. Customers will also have access to a pre-installed Sygic application for turn-by-turn voice guided navigation across Pakistan.


Riaz Haq said...

#Android One QMobile A1 #smartphone arrives in #Pakistan. Priced at Rs 11,500 (US$ 112)

http://www.androidauthority.com/android-one-arrives-in-pakistan-622696/ …

Android One may not have shot to success, but Google isn’t giving up on its long term plan for the project. Responding to requests from social media, Google has announced that the new QMobile A1 smartphone is now available to purchase in Pakistan.

In a bit of a change from previous Android One releases, the QMobile A1 will be available in retail stores up and down the country, rather than placing a heavy emphasis on e-commerce. The lack of a shelf presence is suspected to be one of the reasons why Android One hasn’t been able to grab a notable market share so far.

Hardware wise, the handset’s specifications remain firmly in the budget category, but that’s what we should expect for Rs. 11,500. The QMobile A1 comes with a 4.5-inch 854×480 display, unspecified 1.3GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 5MP rear camera with LED flash, 2MP front facing camera, and 8GB of storage with a microSD card slot for a further 32GB.

There’s also dual SIM support, a 1,700mAh battery and Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box. Sadly the A1 is not 4G compatible, but the phone still matches up with other handsets at this price point.

The QMobile A1’s selling point is being touted as lightning fast updates to the latest version of Android as soon as they are available. A promise made with previous Android One phones. We’ll just have to see if updates appear faster this time around.

In other Android One news, a second wave is rumored to be heading to India. Local smartphone company Lava is expected to unveil a new smartphone on July 14th.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #smartphone sales jump 124% year-over-year. #3G #4G http://www.cellular-news.com/story/Handsets/67770.php …

Shipments of smartphones in Pakistan increased by a massive 124% year on year during the first quarter of 2015, with shipments up 21% when compared with the previous three month period. That's according to the latest findings from global technology research and consulting firm International Data Corporation (IDC), which attributes the shifting dynamics of the Pakistan mobile market to the deployment of 3G 4G networks across the country and the subsequent rise in demand for devices that are compatible with the new infrastructure. Pakistan has traditionally been a feature phone market indeed, just three years ago (2012), 93% of all mobile phone shipments in the country were feature phones since there was no network to support smartphones. Even those consumers that did own smartphones had to be content with only using traditional voice and SMS services. In the last year, however, the market has experienced a drastic shift to the smartphone form factor. According to IDC's Global Mobile Phone Tracker published in Q1 2015, smartphones now account for about 30% of all the devices shipped to Pakistan, up from 25.3% in the previous quarter and from 14.7% in the corresponding period last year. This shift is set to continue, as IDC expects the proportion of smartphones to overtake feature phones by the end of 2017. The Shift to Smartphones in Pakistan The rapid shift to smartphones began in 2014 following the deployment of 3G 4G networks in the country. Inevitably, there is now a scrum of vendors trying to get a share of the pie, and as telecom operators deploy infrastructure to the whole country, the level of competition is only expected to increase. Data from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) shows that only about 10% of all subscribers in the country are using 3G 4G networks, so the shift to smartphones will gather even more pace as the numbers of 3G 4G subscribers increase. Another important factor to consider is that mobile phone penetration currently stands at around 75% in Pakistan, meaning there is a sizeable share of the population that has yet to acquire any type of mobile device. Uptake among these first time buyers is sure to spur the smartphone market's development even further. Meanwhile, dual device ownership is expected to rise, with consumers increasingly acquiring a smartphone in addition to their existing feature phones, not only so they can capitalize on the added benefits of smartphone ownership, but also so they can leverage the on net savings that telcos may provide for both voice and data usage. Vendor Specific Trends As the above shift is taking place, the market is witnessing an increase in the number of vendors offering different SKUs of devices. QMobile continues to dominate the market with an overall unit share of 58%, leading in both the feature phone and smartphone segments. Nokia and Voice are the other key players, with shares of 17% and 5%, respectively. The market is also witnessing an influx of new vendors. Despite QMobile's strong lead, IDC expects competition to intensify as other players like Voice, Samsung, Huawei, and Lenovo make inroads into the market. "We expect to see fluctuations in the market's vendor shares as large global players start to establish a stronger foothold in the market and new players try to gain a slice of the action," says Nabila Popal, IDC's research manager for handsets and display solutions in the Middle East and Africa. "Samsung, for example, initially had a hard time in the Pakistan market, but recent changes to its product mix and target price bands have helped it to finally gain traction in the market, recording a 6% share of smartphone shipments in Q1 2015." ......

Riaz Haq said...

4G Rollout Spurs 124% Increase in Pakistan's Smartphone Shipments

Published on: 7th Jul 2015

Shipments of smartphones in Pakistan increased by a massive 124% year on year during the first quarter of 2015, with shipments up 21% when compared with the previous three month period. That's according to the latest findings from global technology research and consulting firm International Data Corporation (IDC), which attributes the shifting dynamics of the Pakistan mobile market to the deployment of 3G 4G networks across the country and the subsequent rise in demand for devices that are compatible with the new infrastructure. Pakistan has traditionally been a feature phone market indeed, just three years ago (2012), 93% of all mobile phone shipments in the country were feature phones since there was no network to support smartphones. Even those consumers that did own smartphones had to be content with only using traditional voice and SMS services. In the last year, however, the market has experienced a drastic shift to the smartphone form factor. According to IDC's Global Mobile Phone Tracker published in Q1 2015, smartphones now account for about 30% of all the devices shipped to Pakistan, up from 25.3% in the previous quarter and from 14.7% in the corresponding period last year. This shift is set to continue, as IDC expects the proportion of smartphones to overtake feature phones by the end of 2017. The Shift to Smartphones in Pakistan The rapid shift to smartphones began in 2014 following the deployment of 3G 4G networks in the country. Inevitably, there is now a scrum of vendors trying to get a share of the pie, and as telecom operators deploy infrastructure to the whole country, the level of competition is only expected to increase. Data from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) shows that only about 10% of all subscribers in the country are using 3G 4G networks, so the shift to smartphones will gather even more pace as the numbers of 3G 4G subscribers increase. Another important factor to consider is that mobile phone penetration currently stands at around 75% in Pakistan, meaning there is a sizeable share of the population that has yet to acquire any type of mobile device. Uptake among these first time buyers is sure to spur the smartphone market's development even further. Meanwhile, dual device ownership is expected to rise, with consumers increasingly acquiring a smartphone in addition to their existing feature phones, not only so they can capitalize on the added benefits of smartphone ownership, but also so they can leverage the on net savings that telcos may provide for both voice and data usage. Vendor Specific Trends As the above shift is taking place, the market is witnessing an increase in the number of vendors offering different SKUs of devices. QMobile continues to dominate the market with an overall unit share of 58%, leading in both the feature phone and smartphone segments. Nokia and Voice are the other key players, with shares of 17% and 5%, respectively. The market is also witnessing an influx of new vendors. Despite QMobile's strong lead, IDC expects competition to intensify as other players like Voice, Samsung, Huawei, and Lenovo make inroads into the market. "We expect to see fluctuations in the market's vendor shares as large global players start to establish a stronger foothold in the market and new players try to gain a slice of the action," says Nabila Popal, IDC's research manager for handsets and display solutions in the Middle East and Africa. "Samsung, for example, initially had a hard time in the Pakistan market, but recent changes to its product mix and target price bands have helped it to finally gain traction in the market, recording a 6% share of smartphone shipments in Q1 2015."


Riaz Haq said...

In a sign that the rising demand for portable broadband will continue to drive mobile phone imports to Pakistan, the country imported $630 million worth of cell phones in fiscal year (FY) 2015, up 11.6% compared to $564 million of FY2014, according to statistics released by the State Bank of Pakistan.

The year-on-year (YoY) increase in mobile phone imports of FY2015 is 120 basis points higher compared to the annual growth recorded in FY2014. The country had imported $511 million worth of mobile phones in FY2013, which increased by 10.4% to $564 million in FY2014.

The overall telecom imports, however, recorded a meagre 0.7% YoY increase in the latest fiscal year. Overall telecom imports, including mobile phones, clocked in at $1.22 billion in FY 2014 compared to $1.21 billion of the corresponding year.

The demand for smartphones, as well as basic internet phones, has been on the rise since last-year’s auction of mobile broadband technology: third-generation (3G) network and the advanced long-term evolution (LTE) or 4G network.

The five mobile operators converted nearly 1 million users to their next-generation mobile network in April, the latest month for which data is publicly available.

The number of mobile broadband users (3G and 4G combined) increased by 8% to finish at 13 million at the end of April compared to 12 million of the preceding month. The country now boasts 12.8 million 3G users and 140,000 users subscribed to 4G technology.

As a result of the recently concluded biometric verification drive, the overall telecom user base has declined by 15% or 20 million to 115.4 million at the end of FY 2015 compared to 135.8 million of December 2014, but it is likely to pick up again on the back of aggressive marketing and branding by cellular operators to sell their 3G and 4G connections.

The latest data for mobile phone imports indicate that the taxes imposed by the government in recent budget have not yet affected imports. Market sources, however, say the newly-imposed taxes will likely discourage users and lure them towards the grey market.

It may be recalled that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, while unveiling the federal budget for FY 2016, proposed a 100% increase in GST on various categories of imported mobile phones.

As per the aforesaid proposal, the GST on mobile handsets has increased from their current level of Rs150 (low-end handsets), Rs250 (mid-range handset) and Rs500 (high-end handsets) to Rs300, Rs500 and Rs1,000 rupees, respectively.


Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan nears 12.5 mln #3G #4G subscribers in June 2015. Adding over 1 million users per month. #mobile #internet http://www.telecompaper.com/news/pakistan-nears-125-mln-3g4g-subscribers-in-june--1095574

Pakistan ended June with over 13.49 million 3G/4G subscribers, up from 9.83 million in May, according to data from Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA). Telenor led the 3G/4G market with over 4.16 million subscribers, followed by Mobilink (3.65 million 3G subscribers), CMPak (3 million 3G/4G subscribers, and Ufone (2.57 million 3G subscribers). Warid had 106,211 LTE network subscribers at end-June.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Mobilink expands #3G network coverage to 200 cities - Telecompaper

http://www.telecompaper.com/news/mobilink-expands-3g-network-coverage-to-200-cities--1095777#.VcI8ijK7HmE.twitter …

Pakistani mobile operator Mobilink has expanded its 3G network coverage to 200 cities across the country. Mobilink added 178 cities to its 3G network coverage in the first half of this year, Pakistan Tribe reports. Mobilink commercially launched 3G services on the local market in July 2014. To support its 3G services, Mobilink's fiber optic network currently spans over 8,000 kilometers.

Riaz Haq said...

Telecom sector: #Pakistan to have 40 million #smartphones by end of 2016. #3g http://tribune.com.pk/story/953333/telecom-sector-pakistan-to-have-40-million-smartphones-by-end-of-2016/ …

There will be 40 million smartphones in Pakistan by December 2016, according to market estimates, based on current trends in the e-commerce sector, says a major player.

According to sources in the e-commerce market, the estimate, along with the optimism surrounding it, is being driven by the recent growth of telecom sector, particularly the increase in number of mobile broadband users.

In Pakistan, third-generation (3G) and 4G mobile phone users stand at 14.6 million as of July 2015 and continue to grow, creating a huge demand for smartphones, which is the top selling category across all major e-commerce platforms.

Publicly available data shows mobile phone imports in terms of value and not in units, making it difficult to figure out category-wise imports. However, market sources say less than 20% of Pakistan’s monthly mobile phone imports comprises smartphones. This equation though is likely to change in a couple of years, they added.

More than two million users a month are looking to buy a phone online, according to Daraz.pk Co-Founder Muneeb Maayr. To capitalise on this growing demand, major industry players from service providers (telecom operators) to mobile phone makers and an e-commerce platform have partnered with internet giant Google to promote online trade by offering exclusive discounts on mobile phone purchases just ahead of Eidul Azha.

Titled Google’s Tech Mela, the 10-day event, which goes live on September 11, is an online shopping festival which brings many new phones launched recently at discounted prices and deals from major mobile phone brands.

“With this event, Google aims to support the vibrant and growing culture of e-commerce in the country,” Maayr told The Express Tribune, adding it was an exciting platform to raise awareness and consumer adoption of e-commerce in Pakistan.

The participating companies include Samsung, Microsoft, Huawei, PTCL, Rivo, TPL Trakker, Innjoo, Infinix, Intex, Telenor and Zong which are offering products from tablets to personal tracker devices and data bundles.

“This is the first of many online shopping festivals to come to Pakistan, and smartphones are a good assortment to begin this festival with,” Maayr said, responding to a question about whether they planned to promote products other than smartphones.

According to him, Google’s regional head for Asia is in Pakistan for a week scoping out on how best to participate in the development of ecosystem for internet usage.

The country’s e-commerce market is still in its infancy and represents only 5% of conventional retail trade. However, the overall size of this fast growing segment has come close to $100 million, up by two-thirds from $60 million as of December 2014, said Homeshopping.pk Chief Executive Officer Shayaan Tahir in a recent interview.

A bulk of the country’s e-commerce transactions originate from Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi, which comprise about 50% of customers, Maayr said, adding the remaining customer base is very thinly split between cities and towns nationwide.

With telecom operators rolling out 3G and 4G services in semi-urban and rural areas of the country – which usually don’t have outlets for branded products – the e-commerce market is likely to benefit a great deal.

Riaz Haq said...

t’s No #SiliconValley, but #Pakistan is Building Its Own Startup Scene. #Technology http://www.newsweek.com/pakistan-building-silicon-valley-scene-426408 …

In the past five years, Pakistan’s startup ecosystem has grown from a nascent colony to a self-sustaining environment. Zameen, an online real estate startup based in Lahore, has ridden that startup wave in developing a Zillow-like app and website that allows users to search and buy real estate listings in Pakistan’s largest cities.

Like many famous U.S. internet companies, Zameen started with a gamble. In 2006, Zeeshan Ali Khan and his brother left their e-commerce business in the United Kingdom to move to Pakistan and started Zameen in their bedrooms. Back then, online-only services in Pakistan were rare, but Ali Khan followed the money coming into Pakistani real estate from expats living abroad—a million of whom lived in the United Kingdom. Now Zameen employees 500 people and has offices in nearly all major cities in Pakistan.

“Zameen.com came into being when we realised there was a desperate need for a trustworthy online real estate enterprise in Pakistan, especially given the importance the average Pakistani attaches to property,” Ali Khan tells Newsweek in an email. “Back then the state of internet infrastructure in Pakistan was extremely poor but the offline property market was exploding. Facilitated by large investments from the Pakistani diaspora, people found that investing in real estate would earn them significant returns.”

Pakistan’s fast-growing economy and, perhaps more importantly, large English-speaking population has provided a backbone to encourage startups to form and work with foreign companies.

The country has seen startup hubs form around elite universities in cities like Lahore and Karachi—similar to Boston and San Francisco—in the last few years. The Punjab province, where Lahore is located, has been the major hotspot for startups in Pakistan. Plan9, the Punjab provincial government-run technology incubator, hosts over 80 startups. Ali Khan believes there are 140 startups in Lahore, a city of 5 million people.

But Pakistani startups are still minnows compared to those in Silicon Valley. Cultural and economic norms, like being predominantly reliant on cash for transactions, are big obstacles for startups. Despite leading the South Asian region in consumers using mobile payments, only 9 percent of Pakistani men and 2 percent of women have used mobile phones for money transfers. Around 39 percent of Americans have used mobile banking in 2015, according to a report from the Federal Reserve.

To accommodate its cash-based users, Zameen employs motorcycle riders to collect payments from Zameen agents across 30 Pakistani cities in person. “The situation is improving, and a lot of people are beginning to feel more comfortable with online payments and even mobile transactions,” says Ali Khan.

Earning public trust for a little-known startup—a concept now just becoming understood in Pakistan—was a big challenge as well. When Zameen began, it discovered most of the Pakistani property market undocumented, and reliable data was nearly non-existent.

Pakistani consumers, including Ali Khan’s family, had a hard time becoming comfortable with Zameen and its Silicon Valley-inspired ideas. “My family was a little apprehensive when I told them I wanted to start a business of my own,” Ali Khan says. “Today however, the attitudes have greatly changed, thanks to the startup ecosystem that is supporting the startup culture in Pakistan.”

The two biggest hurdles Zameen and fellow startups face are the low penetration rates of 3G/4G mobile Internet and the lack of support from its government. In 2015, only 22 million out of 182 million Pakistanis had 3G/4G technology, leaving little room for startups to continue growing and scale upwards with their online services.

Infrastructural issues like 3G/4G technology need the government’s help, but such support has been lacking, according to Ali Khan.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan #broadband subscribers reached 38m in October: PTA. #3G #4G #Internet


The total number of broadband subscribers has crossed 38 million by the end of October 2016. According to the latest data of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the number of broadband users has reached 38076286. Addition of 35.45 million mobile broadband subscribers Since the launch of 3G and 4G LTE services, mobile broadband subscribers have reached 35.45 million. The total usage of data during September 16 to October 16 was 53,340 terabytes. 2G share remained 87 percent in terms of voice, while 13 percent was data share. In 3G technology, 3 percent was voice, while 97 percent was data usage.

Before 3G and 4G launch, the total volume was 1,243 Tbs in January 2014, whereas, it increased gradually after 3G launched. In December 14, the total usage was 6,903 terabytes which increased to 23,980 in December 2015. In September 2016, the data usage was 45,672 terabytes. The PTA data also claimed that the teledensity has reached to around 71 percent. It indicates that majority of people now have access to basic voice telephony, mostly on mobile phones.

Riaz Haq said...

#Visa QR #mobile payments coming to #Indonesia, #Pakistan, #Vietnam


Visa will soon be expanding its QR-based mobile payment service to ten more markets, including Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam.

The service, named mVisa, is now live in India, Kenya and Rwanda, and will soon be available to merchants and consumers in the three new APAC markets, as well as Egypt, Ghana, Kazakhstan, and Nigeria.

mVisa, a mobile solution, aims to provide easy and secure digital commerce to financial institutions, merchants and consumers in emerging markets.

The service is designed to help merchants overcome infrastructure issues by allowing consumers to use their mobile phones to make cashless purchases at merchant outlets, pay bills remotely and send money to friends and family members by securely linking their Visa debit, credit or prepaid account to the mVisa application.

mVisa digitizes the underlying account and allows consumers to transfer funds from their account to the retailer’s account reliably and securely by scanning a QR code.

Use cases of mVisa include the allowing subscribers of Tata Sky, a direct-to-home service provider in India, to recharge their account by using their mobile phones to scan the WR code directly from the TV screen or online. This function allows Tata Sky customers to order and pay for monthly or one-time services from home without having to visit a physical retail outlet.

Mahanagar Gas Limited, a utility provider in Mumbai, also issues customer bills printed with the mVisa QR code. Customers scan the QR code on the bill, as they would at a merchant outlet, and complete their transaction at their leisure.

Riaz Haq said...

#China's ZTE to expand #digital #television service offering in #Pakistan http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/13/zte-to-expand-digital-television-service-offering-in-pakistan.html

BEIJING — China's ZTE is expanding its partnership in Pakistan to extend digital television services into more regions of the country, including in remote mountainous areas, Zhang Zhenhui, executive vice president at the company, told CNBC.

The Shenzhen-based tech and telecom company will sign the agreement on Sunday at China's Belt and Road Forum, a two-day meeting on the country's major foreign policy initiative.

"This is a project with significant importance, as it provides telecommunication services to many Pakistani people, including ones that live in rural and remote areas," Zhang said. "This is a key strategic project by the two governments, and ZTE serves as the bond between the two nations."

China's ambitious "One Belt, One Road" policy is a plan that aims to connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a vast logistics and transport network. It's set to use roads, ports, railway tracks, pipelines, airports, electric grids and even fiber optic lines. If successful, it would allow China to increase its global influence and find a way to find further growth as the domestic economy slows.

For companies like ZTE, this means a major opportunity to continue expanding abroad, especially with the backing of the Chinese government.

"We believe the policy will greatly support the company's next phase of international expansion," Zhang said.

ZTE already operates in more than 160 countries, and nearly half of the firm's revenues come from its international business. Pakistan has long been an important market for ZTE — the company has worked with local partners to build and upgrade the country's telecoms' 2G, 3G and 4G networks, and opened a research and development center back in 2006.

Pakistan is also an important part of China's "One Belt, One Road" strategy: The world's second-largest economy has already launched a collection of infrastructure projects there worth $46 billion, named the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Zhang said ZTE is optimistic about its 2017 business prospects after posting a strong first quarter with a nearly 28 percent jump in net profit, and that the company will continue to invest heavily in developing 5G networks, with the aim to roll out by 2020.

"5G will be ZTE's champion product … we will be the leader," Zhang said.

The strong start to the year is a sign the company is rebounding after pleading guilty and paying in March around $1 billion in fines to the U.S. government to settle allegations that it violated U.S. laws on selling American technology to Iran. The penalty payment dented earnings — the company posted a 2.36 billion yuan net loss for 2016.

Although the U.S. hasn't officially signed on to China's initiative, a delegation is participating in the Beijing meeting. And U.S.-China trade relations continue to hang in the balance, though officials and business leaders on both sides have worked to maintain optimism about continuing a long relationship.

ZTE's Zhang echoed those sentiments: "I believe in many years from now, the China and U.S. economies will embrace even deeper ties and cooperation."

Riaz Haq said...

Cybernet #Pakistan and PEACE Cable International Network Company Ltd is set to increase Pakistan's #internet #infrastructure capacity by 96 terrabits per second with the country's first carrier-neutral, open-access #submarine #cable system. #bandwidth https://www.dawn.com/news/1476691

Pakistan and East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) Cable International Network Company Ltd and Cyber Internet Services Pvt Ltd (Cybernet Pakistan) signed the agreement on April 16 in Cairo, a press release said. A Memorandum of Understanding for the project was inked in 2018.

The PEACE cable system, with landings in Pakistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya and France, will provide critical interconnectivity to the economic corridors of Asia, Europe, and Africa.

It is a 12,000-kilometre-long, privately owned cable system "that provides an open, flexible and carrier-neutral services for its customer", the press release said. The first phase of the project will connect Asia, Europe and Africa. PEACE is slated for completion in the first quarter of 2020.

The statement said that the project would enable carriers to extend gigabit speeds to the local population and will be instrumental in meeting the exponential growth in bandwidth demand from mobile and fixed broadband users in Pakistan and neighbouring countries.

"The system design will adopt the latest 200G technology and WSS technology, which provides the capability to transmit over 16 terrabits per fiber pair, servicing growing regional capacity needs," the statement said.

Cybernet is the PEACE Cable Landing Station Partner in Pakistan and will be deploying PEACE Pakistan Cable Landing Station (CLS) and managing its operations. Cybernet will also be building Pakistan’s first carrier-neutral cable landing station for PEACE cable by March 2020 in Karachi.

Cybernet Pakistan CEO Danish Lakhani, while addressing a ceremony in this regard said that the submarine cable system would have an "outsized impact on the digital landscape in Pakistan".

"With its ultra-low latency design, the cable will cut down transit time between Pakistan and France to under 90 milliseconds — dramatically improving the response time of internet-based applications and the experience of our users," he explained.

"The cable will also bolster the redundancy of our country’s connectivity to the rest of world," the CEO added.