I will not roll back the history and the details of how the Telecom industry of Pakistan reached here; instead I will directly state that today we have a state of (semi) saturated cellular market, intense price war amongst operators, very tough economic situation and above all consistently depreciating value of Pakistan Rupees.
If we keep all these things in mind, you will agree on following points
- More investment (for network expansion) is one of the toughest decision that stakeholders will make
- Operators can’t further lower their tariffs
- Operators want to cut every possible operating expenses
- Operator wants more customers
- And they want to retain their existing customers.
If all this is true, then how to achieve last element discussed in above equation, how to actually incentivize the customer to remain loyal. This is the question today in the minds of Telecom bosses.
As experts opine, this state of market arrived little early, and they say that other (non-industry) factors (including global recession) coupled with the amount of telecom consumers in the country, actually helped this happen and resultantly strategists are more of concerned about retaining the customers instead of bringing new ones.
Everyone knows that in order to retain a customer you need to provide quality after sale support and services. If we focus telecom industry, we can precisely state that Network Quality and support is all you need to retain your customer.
Based on following inputs, we will try to present you a picture of network quality of Pakistan Operators
- Market trends
- Hundreds of emails that ProPakistani receives
- Experts’ opinion
- And the Surveys and Polls that ProPakistani conduct on regular basis.
- (Alas we don’t have regulators QoS Survey reports here to quote)
Zong launched its service all over Pakistan in April 2008. Earlier on, we assumed that they inherited ordinary network which was under consistent up gradation since China Mobile acquired Pakstel, but even after 15 months quality of Zong’s network has not reached up to the standard.
We know that Paktel’s GSM network was rolled out by ZTE, however, latter contracts were granted to Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent. So when we talk about technologies, Zong has the benefit of experiencing both European and Chinese vendors.
It is said that complaints, largely coming from central and south regions are more of maintenance flaws instead of network equipment constraints. It is believed (by network experts) that network engineers (from RF) are responsible for significant number of downtime of cell sites, lack of statistical data keeping, planning, and optimization of network and its utilization.
Voice quality, network congestion, signals issues or not signals at all, and similar concerns are what bothering Zong customers despite the best tariff available.
Comparatively, despite weak marketing of its brand, Warid has the best network quality amongst all the mobile phone operators and due to this its customers remain loyal with the brand.
Warid didn’t spread its arms to larger amount of areas, but they did well wherever they went. And look at the charts, they are doing well in sales despite very little marketing or let’s say no marketing at all (when compared to other operators).
Ufone is doing well in urban areas, however, reports from rural areas are not good, especially in peak consumption hours. They have well recovered from a very intense situation and over network is returning back to its optimum state.
The largest cellular operator, Mobilink is offering best tariffs now. In the recent past customers had started switching from the Jazz brand due to very high tariffs but after the recent revision in tariffs by the company, the churn rate has dropped notably. However, the quality of service of Mobilink is still not up to the required standards.
Call Echo is the most reported complaint from Mobilink customers.
Telenor Pakistan is apparently working more on spreading its coverage. Their quality of service is actually not backing company’s claims. Not as much as Zong, but Telenor has got issues with its network.
We have reports of day long down times, inconsistent signals and call connectivity issues.
Now if we recall recent Net Addition in subscribers of cellular companies, we will know that Mobilink has regained its lost momentum, while Zong is flowing down the bottom in last two months.
As stated above, Mobilink has started getting new customers, while it managed to retain old customers due to better rates, while on the other hands – Zong has started loosing customers due to ordinary services despite best rates.
This actually proves that customers who are experiencing bad services won’t bother to remain with an operator; because they have 4 other telecom companies and at least 26 prepaid packages to choose from.
The alarm for cellular operators that experts are buzzing is to focus on network quality, and retain what you have got – that’s the next business plan of Paksitan Telecom industry.
On a side note, isn’t this PTA’s responsibility to keep an eye on network quality of cellular operators? Do you remember when last publicly available QoS survey was conducted? Answer in comments to qualify for an exclusive dinner with Katrina Kaif.