World Telecom and Information Society Day (WTISD) is being celebrated on May 17 with a theme â??Protecting Children in Cyber Spaceâ?. Telecom industry of Pakistan has been flourishing by leaps and bounds in the recent years and overall teledensity, subscriber base, technology advancements and influx of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) are indicators for the growth of telecom sector of Pakistan.
According to the latest figures compiled by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) the overall teledensity in the country has reached 60.6%. There are currently 91.4 million mobile subscribers with mobile penetration reaching 56.78%. Cellular segment leads the share in total teledensity by 93.7% followed by FLL 3.8% and WLL 2.5%. There are total 10,001 cities/towns/villages covered and 26,300 cell sites installed by all cellular operators covering almost 90% of the land area of Pakistan.
Total fixed line subscribers (FLL) in Pakistan stand at 3.7 million yielding a teledensity of 2.3%. The Wireless Local Loop (WLL) solution in relation to fixed line requires less investment with high returns. Today WLL services are available across Pakistan in 14 telecom regions and value added services like EvDO are also available. The WLL services are getting popular especially in rural areas and total subscribers of WLL stood at 2.5 million with 1.5% teledensity as of March, 09.
There are currently more than 12,000 cities/ towns/villages covered by WLL services. The Long Distance & International (LDI) segment of the Pakistan telecom sector has gone through developmental and growth phases in a very small period. Tariffs of LDI witnessed stability in terms of reductions in tariff. Currently 13 LDI operators are operational in the country. There are 384,187 PCOs operational in the country, major portion of these PCOs is on wireless and mobile networks.
Broadband is experiencing healthy growth since last year and companies are providing broadband services with DSL, Cable, FTTH and WiMax technologies across Pakistan whereas DSL is the most popular technology. There are currently 267,180 broadband subscribers showing almost 59% growth in 6 months time. Broadband penetration in the country has also been raised from 0.04% in Dec 07 to 0.17% in Dec, 08.
Despite a slowdown in economy as well as in telecom sector, FDI in telecom sector of Pakistan continued to pour in during last few years. During 2007-2008, telecom sector attracted US $ 1,438 million FDI, which is about 28% of total FDI. The FDI received by the sector during six month (July-Decâ??08) was US$ 716 million, almost 5% more than what the sector received during Jan-Juneâ??08.
Telecom is an important sector of Pakistan economy contributing about 3% in the national GDP. Sector is contributing a handsome amount in national exchequer through taxes and duties. During 2007-08 total revenues collected by the Government in the form of taxes and regulatory fee were more than Rs. 111 billion, which is about 11% higher than the previous year. The government collected almost Rs. 55 billion from Telecom sector in the form of taxes during (July-Decâ??08). The total revenues of telecom sector in 2007-08 reached Rs. 279 billion whereas total investment remained at US $ 3.1 billion of which mobile operators constitute US$ 2.3 billion.
PTA continues to facilitate telecom industry while taking regulatory measures to ensure access to all, uninterrupted better quality services and protecting consumers. The newly deployed system of SIM activation, formation of Consumer Protection Regulations, Telecenters (Rabta Ghar) and ICT projects have taken the telecom industry of Pakistan to new heights.
PTA celebrates the World Telecom Day with a vision of carrying the flag of Pakistan Telecom Industry in the race for better quality of service, safeguarding the consumer interests, protecting operator margins and generating substantial revenues for Government.
Khurram A. Mehran
Director (Public Relations)