Mobile Network Coverage & Quality in Pakistan

It is estimated that almost 19000 cell sites have been installed by five mobile operators in different urban and rural areas of the Pakistan, in which Mobilink is on the top and Ufone fallowing on the same track with almost more than 4536 cell sites and others seems to be growing.

It is always observed that network coverage played important role for cellular operators to be a market leader with the help of value added services, as the network coverage remains the key element for increments in subscribers within months.

In this customer acquisition formula 1 race, where everyone is trying to compete each other with all tweaks and tricks they can play in grabbing customers from other operators and even attract new acquisitions to increase more revenues.

According to Ministry of Information Technology Mobile cellular policy, Telco operators are bound to roll out at least 70% network coverage of tehsil headquarters in four years with minimum 10% tehsils in all provinces. Most probably all cellular companies have attained this level in coverage roll out plan, but question is still remained unanswered, how quality of the network has been maintained so far?

Because voice distortion, call hangings, anonymous connectivity, call connection time, air interface blocking, call completion rate, call quality etc are still the same issues for customers faced in rural and urban areas.

The network expert gives answer to these problems by listing issues like erroneous RF planning, installation of cell sites & installations outsourcing. Cell sites are more or less installed on the references basis, where it is common to see lack of proper consideration in RF planning and other aspects related to network quality.
Customers are used to complain about “I can make calls from over the roof only” especially in rural areas of the Pakistan, while urban areas are having indoor coverage problems. On other hands, there is obvious congestion that we experience on all networks during peak hours or in special free offers hours.

I want to remind you of Eid Days, where we are charged for text messages that are never delivered. Okay, lets forget about Eid, as we may ignore such balance looses, but remembering October 8th, 2005 will remind you the congestion we had faced on cellular networks after the earth quake had hit northern areas of Pakistan. I am not sure, if our cellular companies are planning in advance for similar mishap.

I believe that customer acquisitions and customer services are equally significant. Where Telco’s are investing in the customer acquisition offers, they must provide reliable services to cater the existing customers and creating good referrals for their services from the existing customers. This will not only reduce the cost of acquisitions, but it will also help operators to develop brand equity.

To answer these problems, Telco operators must launch their own QoS and customer feedback surveys to get the exact voice of the customer regarding issues of network. Because within increase of customer base by offers, it is indeed the network infrastructure & quality that will force customers to remain loyal on the same prefix code.

Telco operators also have to pay attention over issues like RF planning, Installation of cell sites & installations’ outsourcing in the proposed areas and they must ensure the quality infrastructure is durable; vendors of outsourced installations should be audited to cater these problems instantly.