Leading the global mobile market
In a world population of almost 7 billion, global mobile penetration has reached 86 percent. Surpassing the 6 billion mark by the end of 2011, global mobile connections will produce revenues of up to $314.7 billion which indicates a sharp increase of 22.5 percent over the 2010 figures.
Pakistan’s position in the top ten of the world’s largest mobile markets indicates the steady growth of the country’s telecommunication sector. At 9th position, Pakistan is emerging as a major driver of global telecommunication growth along with the strong economies of Asia like China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam. Consequently Asia holds nearly 50 percent of the world’s mobile subscriptions. The number of mobile connections in Asia has exploded from 226 million in 2000, to 2.4 billion in 2010 and racing on to a forecast 3.6 billion by 2014.
With nearly 180 million mobile subscribers in 2011, Pakistan is seeing tremendous year-toyear growth. About 90 percent of Pakistan’s population lives in areas facilitated by mobile coverage while more than half of the country’s population possesses mobile phones. With figures rising every year, Pakistan has the highest mobile penetration rate in the South Asian region. Importantly, this growth rate appears to be in line with the Mobile Cellular Policy enunciated by the Ministry of Information and Technology. The Policy states: 1. Promote efficient use of radio
spectrum. 2. Increase choice for customers of cellular mobile services at competitive and affordable prices. 3. Encourage private investment in
the cellular mobile sector. 4. Recognize the rights and obligations of mobile cellular operators. 5. Provide for fair competition among mobile and fixed line operators. 6. Provide an effective and welldefined regulatory regime that is consistent with international best practices. According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Mobilink continues to lead the market with 32.9 million subscribers, followed by Telenor with 26.1 million, Ufone with 20.4 million, Warid Telecom with 18.1 million, and Zong with 10.3 million. All telecom companies are engaged in broadening the outreach of mobile coverage throughout Pakistan and have penetrated Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Northern areas. Moreover, five of the seven agencies in the tribal areas have mobile coverage.
For future subscriber growth, the rural sector of Pakistan holds high significance. Efforts are being made to capture considerable mobile penetration in this sector in conformity to the high percentage achieved in the urban sector. Despite the issues of infrastructure, the rural sector can become an important source of revenue. In particular relevance, a large number of Indian operators have deployed base stations powered by renewable energy, mainly solar energy. This transformation is allowing expansion of mobile networks into rural, off-grid regions, where previously it was not possible for high-cost energy stations to be built.
China Mobile has the largest renewable energy deployment of any operator with 2,135 sites in 2008, and expanding to 6,372 in 2009. In the mountainous, isolated region of the Qinghai-xizang Plateau, 80 percent of base stations are powered by solar energy, which allows China Mobile to operate a network in a region out of reach of grid electricity, diesel trucks and maintenance engineers.
In addition to the infrastructure, research on Communications Service Providers (CSPS) suggests that further mobile sector growth can be achieved if mobile operators start offering more flexible and more personalized data plans, which should help capture a larger mobile data user base. The mobile carrier services need to adopt more innovative ways to increase data revenue while finding smart solutions to manage a growing demand in data. Faster data download and upload speeds and diversity in available data on mobile services can potentially improve the mobile subscription rate further.
In the present information revolution, if mobile carriers do not take advantage of data revenue, high mobile subscriptions would remain futile for the economy