Ufone, the mobile arm of fixed line incumbent Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd (PTCL), has upgraded its 3G network in certain areas by refarming GSM spectrum, ProPakistani reports, citing CEO Rainer Rathgeber. The operator uses 2×5MHz in the 2100MHz band for its wireless data services, but has now started to refarm its 900MHz frequencies for 3G allowing it to improve coverage, capacity and service quality for its customers. According to the official, the upgrade has been rolled out in Lahore and the surrounding areas, including Kasur, Sheikupra and Raiwind, as well as all the highways in the region. Mr Rathgeber went on to say that, in addition to refarming its GSM spectrum, Ufone has invested in network expansion in the Lahore region and the cellco now claims to be the ‘first and only’ provider to have converted all of its sites in the city to 3G. Ufone plans to roll out the upgrade to other areas of the country in the coming months.
In his interview with the local news outlet, Mr Rathgeber dismissed Ufone’s recent subscriber losses as irrelevant, due to the practice of customers using multiple SIMs. The official said that it would not be difficult to increase SIM numbers, but the operator would rather focus on ‘real customers,’ adding: ‘What’s the use of customers who sign up, consume free resource and then leave your network without growing your business?’ According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Ufone’s subscriber base has fallen from 20.82 million in March 2016 to 18.97 million six months later, with that figure dropping to 18.58 million at end-2016 according to sector regulator the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).