In order to commemorate this landmark achievement, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) organized 100 million cellular subscription celebration event at Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA).
During this landmark ceremony Prime Minister of Pakistan Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, was the Chief guest.
Federal Minister for Information Technology & Telecom, Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali, Chairman PTA Dr. Mohammed Yaseen, Federal Ministers, Federal Secretaries, Representatives from Awan-e-Sadar, Prime Minister Secretariat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regulatory Authorities, IT & telecom industry experts, CEOs of telecom companies, and media representatives attended the event.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on the occasion said the government was committed to facilitate development of communication infrastructure in the country through a well defined regulatory policy and legislative framework.
Prime Minister said:
“Our telecom policy is characterized by a mix of public-private partnership and policy of deregulation. Critical reforms have been introduced in this sector under the umbrella of National ICT Research & Development Fund and Universal Service Fund.
I am sure that with sustained policy focus and dedication of IT professionals, the government would continue to achieve successes in this sector. The success of cellular mobile industry has become an exemplary model of coordinated efforts between the government, the industry and the policy makers.
I understand that more than 61% of population and over 92% of land area is now covered by cellular services. It is an ample justification of the fact that cellular mobile revolution has taken over the whole country connecting millions of people, thousands of job opportunities and adding billions of rupees to the national exchequer”, said the Prime Minister, Syed Yusaf Raza Gillani.
The competition in the cellular market has reached its apex as operators are introducing new services, bringing tariffs down and improving customer services. Government’s pro-industry reforms and investor-friendly policies have made Pakistan a lucrative investment attraction for the global community.
The telecom industry is flourishing due to the presence of renowned multinationals in the sector ensuring a respectable share of telecom in the total FDI of the country, the Prime Minister added.
The Prime Minister said the most impressive aspect of cellular revolution is the macro- and micro- effects on the nation’s economy. Telecom is one of the most thriving sectors in the economic growth, which brought over US 11 billion dollars of investment during the last five years, he said adding at the international level, Pakistan is a respected and recognized polity in the telecom circles, being awarded with highest honors by renowned telecom institutions like ITU, GSMA, SAMENA.
He said the stakeholders must not forget the aspirations and expectations of the consumers, who have made this achievement possible by putting their money, time and trust in these services and their providers.
Better quality of service, fair tariffs, amiable customer and innovative value added services can turn these 100 million subscribers into 100 million opportunities for stakeholders to venture into new paradigms and explore new possibilities, he added.
He expressed the hope that the upcoming 3G licensing would inculcate a new incentive for operators and consumers alike.
“I expect that the relevant quarters would speed up the necessary procedures in this regard.”He congratulated all the stakeholders who truly collaborated and coordinated their efforts for the success of telecom industry in Pakistan.
“I am sure that telecom industry of Pakistan will continue to achieve prestige and honour in the future too,” the Prime Minister said.
Minister for Information Technology, Sardar Assef Ahmed Ali said
Telecom sector has significant contribution to the GDP and the future of Pakistan lies in this sector.Telecom sector has become biggest contributor to tax revenue of the country, the minister said, adding that the number of mobile users is more than the registered voters in Pakistan.
Earlier, Chairman PTA, Dr. Mohammad Yaseen in his welcome address said:
Telecom sector in Pakistan is the biggest in SAARC region and attracted &6.3 billion investment out of total investment of &11 billion. He said this sector contributed $332 million revenue to the national exchequer during the last three year.
CEO of Mobilink, Rashid Khan said that telecom industry in Pakistan is a lucrative market for foreign investors. He said, in each minute 4,30,000 SMSs and 60,000 voice messages are sent through mobile phones.
This historical event will long be remembered not only by the regulator but also by the Government of Pakistan without who’s fair and friendly policies it could not have been possible to achieve 100 million subscription mark. During the ceremony Pakistan Post representative presented a commemorative stamp to the Prime Minister of Pakistan which has been issued on this occasion.
History of Cellular Telephony in Pakistan:
Pakistan telecom industry was growing at an astounding pace after the deregulation of the sector. The mobile sector growth has been extraordinary and this sector has become a model for other countries across the world.
A number of factors have played role in it including investor friendly government policies and healthy competition introduced by the Government which has encouraged operators to an extra mile for making a strong subscriber base. The predictions, estimates and forecasts made for Pakistan mobile industry proved to be counterfactual and the subscriber base proceeded with growth higher than the forecasted one.
Mobile services in Pakistan started in 1995 and three operators Instaphone, Paktel and Mobilink were providing services to only 68,038 subscribers on exorbitant rates. In order to give choice to the people of Pakistan, Ufone a subsidiary of PTCL was given license to operate mobile services in year 2000.
With the consent of the Government the Regulator implemented the Calling Party Pays Regime in 2001 which gave boost to the subscriber base and it crossed 1 million in 2002. (1.7 million Subscribers in 2002).
In 2003 deregulation was introduced in the mobile sector of Pakistan through Mobile Cellular Policy. Telenor & Warid were awarded two new mobile licenses in 2004 against the price of 291 million dollar each and they started their operations in 2005. There was competition with 6 operators which gave boost to mobile subscribers base and it crossed 12 million in 2005.
Telecom Industry showed signs of maturity with competition in 2007 and operators were providing services to 68 million subscribers. In year 2009 subscribers crossed figure of 95 million. In June 2010 mobile subscribers reached 99.4 million.
PTA says that it will continue to ensure provision of best telecom services to the citizens of Pakistan. Its main objective is to make the telecom sector an even stronger and vital asset to national economy. PTA hopes to continue its efforts in this direction.