Pakistan’s mobile market expanded by almost 150% to surpass 20 million subscribers in 2005, according to the latest statistics released by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). Mobilink led the market with 11.12 million customers, followed by Ufone with 5.18 million users, Warid Telecom with 2.07 million, Telenor Pakistan (1.87 million), Paktel (992,051) and Instaphone (419,778).
In the fixed line market the number of subscribers, excluding wireless in the local loop (WiLL) users, grew to 5.37 million, up from 4.58 million at the end of 2004. Incumbent Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) continues to dominate the sector due to its stranglehold on the PSTN, though a number of newly launched long-distance and international operators have begun to make an impact. The PTA said PTCL had 5.19 million fixed line customers at year end, whilst National Telecommunication Corporation had 81,027, Special Communication Organisation 94,649, World Call 4,100 and Brain Telecom 1,520.
With fixed line growth slowing considerably, the PTA is looking to low-cost, semi-mobile WiLL services as an alternative to the cellular operators. The regulator launched an auction in August 2004 for blocks of WiLL spectrum in the 450MHz, 1.9GHz and 3.5GHz bands in each of the country’s 14 regions. PTCL won multiple licences, whilst 16 others picked up spectrum. The PTA says there were 499,828 WiLL users in Pakistan by the end of 2005. PTCL led the market with 286,877 customers, TeleCard had 150,985 users, World Call boasted 54,181, Great Bear had 5,250 and Special Communication 2,535.