The telecom industry has made remarkable progress, generating a record-high income of Rs. 694 billion in FY 2021–2022, up by 6% from Rs. 651 billion during the same period in 2020–21. However, the slowdown in the economy and higher operating costs led to fairly sluggish growth in the fourth quarter.
In accordance with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Annual Report 2022, the sector attracted US$ 2,073 million in investment and contributed Rs. 325.2 billion to the national coffers, of which Rs. 222.7 billion came from taxes and the remaining Rs. 102.5 billion came from Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) auction and licence renewal proceeds.
Despite a hard year highlighted by mounting inflationary pressures and profitability worries, the report, released today, reveals optimistic telecom statistics and expanding usage of telecom services across Pakistan thanks to a progressive and supportive regulatory environment.
Pakistan has more than 197 million telecom (fixed and mobile) subscribers, with a teledensity of 90%. Additionally, there are now 194 million biometrically verified SIMs or subscribers, compared to 124 million broadband subscriptions, which have a 56 percent penetration rate, and 8,970 petabytes (6.8 GB per subscriber, per month) of mobile data usage, which represents an increase of 31 percent annually.
Mobile Broadband Subscription
According to subscriptions for mobile broadband, Jazz is in the lead with a 38% market share, followed by Zong (27.8%), Telenor (21.4%), Ufone (11.6%), and SCO (1.2%). Zong’s market share barely increased by 0.1%, while Ufone’s market share increased by 0.7%.
The market shares of Jazz and Telenor, on the other hand, fell by 0.5% and 0.4%, respectively.
Mobile subscriptions experienced a solid yearly growth of 6% during the year under review. Zong won the lead in the area of subscriber growth with 9% increase, followed by Jazz (8%), Telenor (1.4%), and Ufone (0.7%).
With regard to mobile subscriptions, Jazz was in first place with a 38.6% market share, followed by Telenor (25.3%), Zong (23.1%), Ufone (12.1%), and SCO (0.9%). Jazz and Zong have successfully increased their market shares over the last four years, whereas Telenor and Ufone witnessed a decline as a result of weaker investments and a later debut into the 4G market.
In addition, Pakistan has advanced to a 5th Generation (G5) regulator ranking of “Advanced” status for 2022 according to the International Telecommunication Union. Pakistan has been classified as a “emerging” telecom market by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), a designation that is the result of numerous actions.
Short-Range Devices (SRDs) and an IoT Framework were also created by PTA, and under these frameworks, licences have been granted for the delivery of IoT (Low Power Wide Area Network—LPWAN) services. During the year under review, a significant exercise in spectrum rationalisation was conducted, resulting in increased spectrum efficiency that has benefited consumer experience.
It is important to note that, demonstrating a significant shift in consumer behaviour, the volume of mobile device imports fell for the first time in the history of the nation as most local demand was satisfied by locally produced goods.
Between January 2021 and September 2022, Pakistan produced a staggering 41.35 million mobile phones, including 17.3 million smartphones, creating thousands of skilled jobs and enabling local production of brands like Samsung, Nokia, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, Techno, and Infinix.
The Annual Report also disclosed that PTA registered international social media (SM) platforms like Bigo, Snack Video, and Mico in accordance with the law at the time.
The first “Gender Mainstreaming in ICTs” plan is being developed as part of PTA’s “Digital Gender Inclusion Initiative,” which is the largest of its kind in the nation. These actions are in addition to those taken to improve telecom carriers’ accessibility, availability, and cost.
The paper states that PTA is concentrating on national standards for telecom equipment, outside plant code, in-building cabling standards, and cost-saving utility infrastructure usage. The regulator also thinks that in order to ease the adoption of new technologies and the debut of 5G, active infrastructure and spectrum sharing must be put into place. In order to close the digital divide, PTA will keep fostering the availability of high-quality telecom services and infrastructure across the nation, according to the report.