Its been slightly over a month now that trial services for 3G were started by cellular operators in Pakistan.
Starting with Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Karachi, cellular operators – other than Zong — are expanding their reach to serve their customers with next-generation 3G technology at earliest.
Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had made this obligatory for all 3G operators to make 3G services available in minimum of five cities (including four Provincial and Federal Capital) during first nine month of the 3G launch.
With current rollout status, it appears that operators have almost fulfilled their respective rollout obligations way ahead of the deadline, i.e. with-in first month of license auction.
Ufone is clearly winning the race during the first few weeks by taking its 3G network live in nine cities across three provinces of the country. Ufone’s 3G network is available in following nine cities as of today:
Ufone has proved that their readiness for 3G network was optimum, probably this is the reason that Ufone was able to commercially launch 3G ahead of all other operators. Its quality of network for 3G in covered areas is also said to be super, hinting that they have some plans for the months to come.
Ufone, it appears, is also trying to get its 3G network to cities where no one else has penetrated yet. Take example of Sialkot and Gujranwala where no other operator is offering 3G except Ufone. This approach is definitely going to earn the company notable number of extra customers during early days.
Mobilink, on the other hands, has its 3G network in eight cities. Below is the list:
Mobilink also has this unique feature of 3G network availability in Quetta where no other operator has reached yet.
Telenor, which is set to commercially launch its 3G services on June 1st, has managed to grab four cities with its 3G network. Telenor’s 3G network is available in following cities:
While we know the fact that these cities are not entirely covered by cellular operators, it is said (and observed independently) that telcos are swiftly expanding the 3G network with-in the covered cities.
This on-going process of network expansion with 3G network will continue for several years, but early impressions suggest that operators are pretty aggressive with their rollout plans.
Zong – quite surprisingly – just commenced its trial 3G services at selected locations in Lahore. It’s commercial launch – we are told by sources – isn’t happening anytime before mid-July, which is quite odd for a company like Zong as they looked best or say over-prepared for 3G launch during the auction.
Overall, I would say, operators are doing a wonderful job with 3G network rollout. Not only the 3G coverage, but the service quality is also commendable. These speedtest results screens (from hundreds of ProPakistani readers) speak volumes.
Having said this, it is just a start and a lot has to be done yet. Telecom companies will have to continue expanding the 3G network along with fair quality of service during the years to come.