Soaring Sales of Smartphones and 3G Subscriptions in Pakistan

Over 1.5 million smartphones and an equal number of 3G subscriptions are being purchased every month in Pakistan, according to data released recently. The number of broadband subscriptions has more than quadrupled from under 4 million in 2013-14 to nearly 17 million in 2014-15 as a result of 3G and 4G rollout in the country last year, according to data released by Pakistan Telecommunications Authority.

Broadband Subscription Data. Source: PTA

3G/4G Expansion:

3G/4G subscriptions in Pakistan soared to 13.49 million, up from 9.83 million in May, according to data from Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA). Telenor led the 3G/4G market with over 4.16 million subscribers, followed by Mobilink (3.65 million 3G subscribers), CMPak (3 million 3G/4G subscribers, and Ufone (2.57 million 3G subscribers). Warid had 106,211 LTE network subscribers at end of June. These carriers have laid thousands of kilometers of fiber to support 3G servicesMobilink alone has fiber optic network that currently spans over 8,000 kilometers.

Soaring Smartphone Sales:

Monthly smartphone sales in Pakistan are averaging 1.5 to 2 million, according to a publication named Mobile Payments Today.  Over 70% of these new smartphones are based on Google's Android operating system.  Rapid growth in smartphones in the country has attracted Chinese company Haier to set up a factory in Lahore to take advantage of the opportunity.

Mobile Broadband Apps:

Several operators are now offering 3G 4G mobile broadband connectivity in over 200 cities and towns across Pakistan. The ubiquity of access is laying the foundation for Pakistan 2.0 with a wide range of apps to improve the lives of Pakistanis. Such apps are starting to appear for education, health care, social networking, ride-sharing, banking, e-commercegovernment services, etc.

It is also bringing in mobile payments companies to allow consumers to pay using direct carrier billing. Centili, a mobile payments processor, has announced its plans to work with Mobilink, Telenor, Zong, Ufone, and Warid, which have a combined 136 million subscribers in Pakistan.


Expansion of mobile broadband and increasing sales of smartphones are beginning to help stimulate Pakistan's economy, as are the increasing cement sales from both private and public sector.

Construction work on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is stimulating economic activity in Pakistan as indicated by rising domestic cement demand in the country.  It was up 8% year over year in 2014-15.  Cement sales are considered a barometer of development activity.  A recent assessment by Ruchir Sharma, head of Morgan Stanley's emerging markets, has said Pakistan's economy is growing more than twice as fast as emerging markets other than India and China.  In a piece titled "Bucking stagnation elsewhere, the quiet rise of South Asia",  Sharma particularly mentions the Chinese CPEC investment of $46 billion as a positive for Pakistan. "Pakistan’s manufacturing sector is now growing, due to both increasing electric output and the fact that – like Bangladesh – its young population and labour force is expected to continue expanding for at least the next five years", says Sharma.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

3G 4G Rollout in Pakistan

E-Commerce Growth in Pakistan

Haier Expands to Start Smartphone Production in Pakistan

Pakistan 2.0: Technology Driving Productivity

Public Sector Apps in Pakistan

Online Education in Pakistan

Growing Fiber Connectivity in Pakistan

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Comment by Riaz Haq on August 6, 2015 at 3:30pm

July 2015 IDC report on smartphones in Pakistan:

Shipments of smartphones in Pakistan increased by a massive 124% year on year during the first quarter of 2015, with shipments up 21% when compared with the previous three-month period. That's according to the latest findings from global technology research and consulting firm International Data Corporation (IDC), which attributes the shifting dynamics of the Pakistan mobile market to the deployment of 3G/4G networks across the country and the subsequent rise in demand for devices that are compatible with the new infrastructure.

Pakistan has traditionally been a feature phone market; indeed, just three years ago (2012), 93% of all mobile phone shipments in the country were feature phones since there was no network to support smartphones. Even those consumers that did own smartphones had to be content with only using traditional voice and SMS services. In the last year, however, the market has experienced a drastic shift to the smartphone form factor. According to IDC's Global Mobile Phone Tracker published in Q1 2015, smartphones now account for about 30% of all the devices shipped to Pakistan, up from 25.3% in the previous quarter and from 14.7% in the corresponding period last year. This shift is set to continue, as IDC expects the proportion of smartphones to overtake feature phones by the end of 2017.

The Shift to Smartphones in Pakistan

The rapid shift to smartphones began in 2014 following the deployment of 3G/4G networks in the country. Inevitably, there is now a scrum of vendors trying to get a share of the pie, and as telecom operators deploy infrastructure to the whole country, the level of competition is only expected to increase. Data from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) shows that only about 10% of all subscribers in the country are using 3G/4G networks, so the shift to smartphones will gather even more pace as the numbers of 3G/4G subscribers increase.

Another important factor to consider is that mobile phone penetration currently stands at around 75% in Pakistan, meaning there is a sizeable share of the population that has yet to acquire any type of mobile device. Uptake among these first-time buyers is sure to spur the smartphone market's development even further. Meanwhile, dual device ownership is expected to rise, with consumers increasingly acquiring a smartphone in addition to their existing feature phones, not only so they can capitalize on the added benefits of smartphone ownership, but also so they can leverage the on-net savings that telcos may provide for both voice and data usage.

Vendor-Specific Trends

As the above shift is taking place, the market is witnessing an increase in the number of vendors offering different SKUs of devices. QMobile continues to dominate the market with an overall unit share of 58%, leading in both the feature phone and smartphone segments. Nokia and Voice are the other key players, with shares of 17% and 5%, respectively. The market is also witnessing an influx of new vendors. 

Despite QMobile's strong lead, IDC expects competition to intensify as other players like Voice, Samsung, Huawei, and Lenovo make inroads into the market. "We expect to see fluctuations in the market's vendor shares as large global players start to establish a stronger foothold in the market and new players try to gain a slice of the action," says Nabila Popal, IDC's research manager for handsets and display solutions in the Middle East and Africa. "Samsung, for example, initially had a hard time in the Pakistan market, but recent changes to its product mix and target price bands have helped it to finally gain traction in the market, recording a 6% share of smartphone shipments in Q1 2015."

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 9, 2015 at 7:37am

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) has expanded its next-generation CharJi EVO wireless broadband services to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s capital Peshawar.

The introduction of CharJi EVO will enable residents of Peshawar to experience Pakistan’s fastest and most reliable 4G LTE wireless broadband service at speed up to 36Mbps.

The company ushered a new era of technological innovation in the country by introducing the next generation ‘CharJi EVO’ in 2014, which is an addition to the 3G EVO range of services already serving the residents of Peshawar and customers nationwide.

The launch ceremony of CharJi EVO services was attended by a large audience of business community, senior government officials, media personalities as well as representatives of IT and education sector.

KP’s Finance Minister Muzafar Said was the chief guest at the occasion.

PTCL Chief Commercial Officer Adnan Shahid, while speaking at the launch ceremony said, “PTCL has always been at the forefront in introducing innovative technologies and services in the country and our fixed and wireless broadband services are acting as a catalyst in transforming the socio-economic landscape of Pakistan.”

“PTCL has always introduced technologies that have helped people improve their lives. Peshawar is a historic city and a strong business hub and CharJi wireless broadband services will open new possibilities of growth and development in the area,” he added further.

CharJi EVO service is available in convenient dongles, Mi-Fi clouds and tablet, providing a powerful internet experience, faster web browsing, HD video streaming, downloads, uploads and low latency (ping) rates for online gaming.

The ease and comfort of CharJi EVO cloud devices with its state of the art Wi-Fi capability and fast internet browsing brings an unparalleled experience, connecting up to 10 Wi-Fi enabled devices simultaneously.

PTCL has launched Pakistan’s first 4G LTE tablet ‘CHARJI EVO TAB’ which provides built-in CharJi connectivity and voice calling feature.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 16, 2015 at 9:59am

#Pakistan to develop #internet infrastructure to bridge #digital divide: Mamnoon 

President Mamnoon Hussain, speaking at the second annual World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, on Wednesday, said Pakistan is pursuing a vision of accelerated digitisation in order to transform itself into a knowledge-based economy, Radio Pakistan reported.

Our focus remains on development of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure, he said, with special emphasis on serving marginalised segments of society and bridging the digital divide.

Mamnoon said the government realises the potential of ICT for socio-economic growth, and considered it a key enabler to achieve self-sufficiency, transparency, good governance and empowerment of the people.

The information revolution has fundamentally altered perceptions of reality, time and space, Mamnoon said, adding that Information Technology is rapidly reshaping identities, geo-politics and the security dynamics of the 21st century, as well as other paradigms.

The conference was held in the southeastern city of Wuzhen in Zhejiang province, where Chinese President Xi Jinping once was provincial party secretary. It was organised by the Cyberspace Administration of China, the Cabinet agency that enforces internet controls.

Organisers said some 2,000 people were due to attend, including representatives of Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp, Lenovo Group and Baidu Inc and officials from Russia and Kazakhstan.

'Cyberspace shouldn't be a battlefield'
Chinese President Xi Jinping, addressing the conference, called for governments to cooperate in regulating Internet use and fighting crime and terrorism online, stepping up efforts to promote controls that activists complain stifle free expression.

Xi's government operates extensive Internet monitoring and censorship and has tightened controls since he came to power in 2013.

The Chinese president called for creating a global "governance system" to reflect the "wishes and interests of all countries".

He said that would help fight online crime and terrorism and promote "healthy development" of the Internet.

Xi's comments reflect the growing assertiveness of China's ruling Communist Party in promoting its own vision for how to regulate global finance, technology, news media and other matters.

"Cyberspace shouldn't be a battlefield," Xi said. "There should be no double standards in safeguarding network security."

On Wednesday, Xi also called on other governments to respect "network sovereignty", a reference to efforts by leaders of China, Russia, Iran and some other nations to enforce controls over once-borderless cyberspace.

At last year's Wuzhen conference, organisers tried unsuccessfully to persuade global Internet companies to endorse a call for the world community to "respect Internet sovereignty" and "spread positive energy".

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 10, 2016 at 9:42pm

#Pakistan to manufacture cellphones and #smartphones-

Rs800 billion to Rs1 trillion telecom revenue estimated in the near future.

Pushed by burgeoning demand, and encouraged by examples of China and India, Pakistan has decided to domestically manufacture cellphone and smart phones.

"Foreign investors, who are seeking investment in the telecom sector are likely to get big incentives," Ministry of Finance sources say. They include prospective investors, particularly from UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Asean. Some of these investors propose to join hands with Chinese companies which have reputed and cost-effective technology and trained manpower. Their pans are to make Pakistan as the production base to feed the Pakistan-Central Asia-Iran, and Middle Eastern and African markets for telecom and cellular products.

Domestically, with a population getting close to 200 million in Pakistan itself, there is a huge big market for these new, hand held sets as their demand is equally strong both in the urban as well as rural areas, like far away Gilgit-Baltistan on the Chinese border in the north and Chaman in the south, bordering Iran.

Beside China, which is a big suppler of mobile phones through official-channels imports and trade, thousand more of the mobs, smart phones, and the rest of these telecom products are smuggled duty-free into Pakistan every week.

"The decision has been made by our Ministry of IT and Telecom, Minister of State Mrs Anusha Rehman told this writer.

"As soon as our domestic manufacturing starts, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government would have fulfilled one more promise to provide cheaper products to people, expand local manufacturing and ensure more jobs to Pakistanis," she also said.

The immediate steps to be taken are to float Expression of Interest (EoIs) for local manufacturing of mobile phones and smart meters under he revival and revitalisation plans of Telephone Industry of Pakistan (TIP) - the factory built by Seimens of Germany. It was the first factory which started making telephone apparatus and later on full fledged telephone exchanges and telecom equipment at Haripur in Khyber Pukhtunistan Province in 1950s. It is called of Mother of All Telecom products. This state-run factory has recently performed poorly both financially and production-wise.

IT and Telecom Ministry sources say after the recent launch of $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) prospects of Chinese investment in Seimens have brightened. It may run in public-private partnership mode, says Azmat Ali Ranjha, secretary, Ministry of IT & Telecoms. When it resumes working in that mode, the plant will start manufacturing mobile phones and smart meters. Zia-ul-Haq, managing director of Seimens says an EoI is expected to be submitted soon.

When the prospective investors look at the demand within the region and Pakistan, itself, it is huge - and still rapidly growing. Shipments of smartphones in Pakistan massively surged by 214 per cent on year-on-year basis during the first three moths of 2015 compared to the last year, says the just unveiled report of the International Data Corporation (IDC).

"The shifting dynamics of the Pakistan mobile market to the deployment of 3G/4G networks across the country and the subsequent rise in the demand of devices that are compatible with the infrastructure," according to the report.

IDC report further said Pakistan has traditionally been a feature phone market; indeed just three years ago in 2012, around 93 per cent of all mobile phone shipments in the country were feature phones since here was no network to support smartphones.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 10, 2016 at 10:33pm

Pakistani farmers to be given five million smartphones

Five million smartphones will be given to farmers in Pakistan in an effort to improve knowledge of modern farming techniques, an official has said.
The first phones would be delivered in October, said Punjab Information Technology Board chairman Dr Umar Saif.
Advice from experts would also be distributed via the devices.

m-Agriculture An emerging field to Revive Agriculture in Pakistan

Telenor Pakistan is the leading operator of Pakistan that is working aggressively in creating a digital society in Pakistan. It has also taken up an initiative to improve the agriculture sector and has introduced Khushal Zamindar mobile agriculture service. This service strives to endow farming households by improving access to well-timed and actionable information for viable impact through better yields.

Mobile apps are offering quicker and easier access to information to farmers in local languages that have made significant improvement on the currently available resources
The service offers access to agricultural advisory information and news through IVR that are sent via SMS or OBD alerts that inform the user twice a day. Another initiative regarding m-agriculture is Bakhabar Kisaan. It a project of both Pakistan NARC and Switch Communication Pvt. Ltd. Switch Communication Pvt. Ltd has generated a platform for farmers which would be reachable over the Telecom Medium by every farmer of Pakistan.

By the help of this platform farmers will have access to the modern farming techniques, cures of diseases, amount of fertilizer to be used for a specific crop and all other information which is required by farmers to surge the yield and productivity.

Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) has also played an important role in the advancement of m-Agriculture. It has developed an app AgriSmart for effective agricultural developments. Whereas, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is also quite active in instilling smart technology in the country.

Govt to provide 30,000 smartphones among BISP beneficiaries

The government would provide around 30,000 smartphones with Rs 250 balance per month among Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) beneficiaries, considering importance to enhance financial and digital inclusion.

The smartphones having 3G services would be provided in un-served and under-served areas of Balochistan and FATA under a programme, which would be funded by Universal Service Fund (USF), as the government has upgraded its scope.

The distribution of smartphones among the BISP beneficiaries with the launch of upcoming broadband projects for providing 3G services in Balochistan and FATA.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 30, 2017 at 8:42am

#Pakistan adds around 700,000 #3G #4G subscribers in February 2017 to bring total to 39 million #mobile #Broadband

Pakistan added 692,741 3G/4G subscribers in February this year, ending the month with over 38.96 million 3G/4 G subscribers, up from 38.26 million in January, according to a report from Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA). Mobilink (Jazz) led the 3G/4G market with over 12.7 million subs¬cribers, followed by Telenor (10.6 million 3G and 4G subscribers), CMPak (10.7 million 3G and 4G subscribers), and Ufone (4.8 million 3G subscribers). Warid had 637,363 LTE network subscribers at end-February.


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