Cellular Tariffs: Our Culture of Criticism and Discontentment

This is a Guest Post By Asad Ur Rehman, who wrote this article as general Mobile phone user. Professionally, Asad is a specialist in Human Resource Management.

unhappyEver since Pakistan came into being every thing got costly by every passing day. Inflation has risen much but there is only one product or service which even in the era of inflation and recession is getting cheaper and affordable with the time is Cellular Service.


But even then we people are not contented on it and want more and more.

Tariffs for Calls, SMS and GPRS/EDGE have come down from Rupees to Paisas but still we are not happy. Every now and then a company announces some new package for subscribers but still we don’t feel good.

We are having the cheapest cellular services in the world but still we don’t fell satisfied. The thing is that this discontentment and criticism has become a part of our life. Positive criticism is good but criticizing on every other thing is not good.

Just a brief overview of how much cellular services have gone cheaper in last 4-5 years is as below.

  • Incoming calls are now free anywhere in Pakistan which were previously charged while in roaming.
  • SMSs which were charged at 1.50 Rs-2 Rs/Sms are now not more than 1 paisa/Sms.
  • Outgoing Calls which were previously being charged at 6-7 Rs/minute are now charged at around 1-1.50 Rs/minute. Moreover on nominal charges one can talk for hours and make free calls whole day.
  • GPRS which was charged as per usage is now being charged per hour or different GPRS & MMS buckets are available at cheapest possible rates.
  • Many more things like new connection charges, replacement charges, roaming charges have been slashed and many more innovative services have been introduced frequently by every cellular company.

But we try to find a negative point in every service. Some days back Mobilink introduced Jazz Jazba. Every one continued to show its negative picture but no one talked about its reduced international SMS charges, its nominal charges to call on FnF whole day whole night and more. Same goes with Ufone when they introduced Uth package, every one talked about its daily 1 Rs deduction but only some of them applauded. Same goes with M9, Djuice and many more.

One thing which we should not forget is that all these companies are private companies and they will do business as long as are having profits and hence they have to find new ways and services to earn it.

Also, if mobile companies are having profits – we shouldn’t forget that they are giving us something in return. And moreover no one is forcing any one to use a service. It’s by our very own choice.

Pinched by price war, the day they will be in loss they will pack up and move to somewhere else hence putting lot of professionals and families in trouble.

  • Great article. This is true. We as a nation have turned into complaining criticizing people. We are never ever ever happy and we can never write two sweet words for people who make an effort to do something constructive.

    Take a look at comments on propakistani only. Almost 90% of all comments are biting, criticizng, foul, degrading and unappreciative. Why cant we just be nice to others and appreciate little things instead of ALWAYS complaining and what we say ‘Keeray Nikalna’

    Good Post!

  • look we just compare
    like if zong is offering 2gb at Rs240 including tax why would we pay 700Rs for persona
    its just a comparison
    gprs tarrifs are stil very expensive
    telenor internet more offers 3mb per day
    and same company in india uninor offers 5gb for Rs70 for three months can you bleive it??
    I know calls and sms tarrifs are gone down more than hundred percent
    but why mobile internet is so expensive?

    • Dear,

      I guess We cannot compare ourselves with India much, India is having 3G services which we still don’t have. Moreover India is technologically very much advanced than us. But still the basic things of cellular services like calls, sms, mnp, sim replacement and new connection are way cheaper in Pakistan than India. Mobile internet is also getting cheaper as compared to earlier. Have bit patience and it will come down more than India is offering.

      • Excuse me!! Do a proper research first n then tawk. Who says India is way too advance in tech from us. I wud certainly say other wise. You r tawking just abt 3G there are a lots of services which we had introduced way before in pakistan and Indians still are working on it e.g MNP, local call rates ( indian telcos charge according to area base while we r charged the same even if i call within a city or miles away. So i would suggest you better do a research first and then post..
        NO OFFENSE

        • Dear Rafay,

          I am really sorry but you haven’t got the context of my reply. I replied to the post that was mentioned above me in which Mr Pakistani is referring to cheaper mobile internet. And in that context i replied that they are having 3G. And further more i was talking about technology. Technology doesn’t only mean cellular services they include all IT based and other things.

          And I know what indian telcos are doing that’s why I haven’t mentioned in my post regarding indian or any other telcos. and my post is only regarding our behaviors. I hope you will get it.

  • You have just expressed exactly what I have been making my friend’s understand..
    I hope more people understand this. We don’t need to make it any more cheaper. We Need Quality and Lower Taxes by the Government.
    3G..? :(
    I think we should just move to 4G. It isn’t that big a deal and much much better future proofing.

  • its the first time some one has posted what reality is we pakistanis only believe in criticism the call charges have dropped down from 1.20/min to 4.80/hr still we criticise…every utility is becoming expensive but have we noticed the telcos are reducing prices every day…at end i wud say as i always do WE ARE A NATION WHO EXCEL IN CRITICISM

    • 2 gb /unlimited???? what sort of data cap is this…here in Pakistan we dont know how to make 2 gb -> unlimited

  • Rameez, What U knOw abt 4G ?

    Abi tak to 4G Gsm me launch bhe nahe hua, 4G Verizon America is CDMA ? Ab ayinda 4G Ka naam b mat lena, bak to topic, Sub se pehle ap ne JAZZ JAZBA ka kaha ary jub se JAZZ ne GPRS launch kiya hay unho ne koi GPRS pakg diya hay abi tak ?

    [Comment Edited]

    • @SK:
      one moment my mind tells me to ignore your reply and move on. The next moment my mind tells no we have a right to educate the people. I sincerely hope that your knowledge of 4G is much better and deeper than mine and you were just mistaken while writing the above comment.
      [Carrier]—[Radio Technology]—[4G Technology]
      SPRINT—-CDMA————— LTE
      VERIZON—CDMA————— WiMax
      T-Mobile–GSM—————- HSPA+ (comparable to 4G)
      AT&T——GSM—————- Planing on LTE.
      Consumer Note: CDMA is your home VPTCL (Vfone) and WorldCall phones. GSM is ZonG, Warid, Telenor, Mobilink & Ufone. Wateen uses WiMax.
      Yes Mr. SK we can jump directly from 2G networks to 4G (LTE). It doesn’t matter if we are on GSM or CDMA and still be compatible with old 2G/3G networks. 2G/3G/4G support in one network is possible. Example: http://bit.ly/fvcXB6
      Yes we can take or borrow some money from that 40 billion the USF has, for this purpose.
      Yes we can be ahead of the World and not just follow them. Example: When Wateen Launched WiMax it was the largest WiMax network in the world. When Sprint (US) was just testing or thinking of WiMax.
      We were on GSM/GPRS (2G), we moved to EDGE (2.5G), now we will move to UMTS/HSDPA which is 3G. Than we may move to HSPA+ which is super 3G. As LTE is a improved form of UMTS why not just skip UMTS and shift to LTE, which is 4G.
      LTE (4G):
      Downlink: 100Mbit/s
      Uplink: 50Mbit/s
      in ideal case. in real they are like 5-12Mbps downstream and 2-5Mbps upstream.

      • Just a little clarification – Sprint has launched WiMax and Verizon has launched LTE network. (You swapped the 2 in the table).

        Agree to everything else in your comment.

      • hey Rameez i’m your fan from now on…for a minute or so my mind just froze after reading that stupid science of SK… your comment has really helped me to regain myself
        Nice explanation…DontKnow likes it :)

        @SK: your comment can win bullshit comment of the year and you should also get scores of life time achievement awards for your knowledge level but from someone of your class like zardari

        • @Ammar: Thanks for pointing that out. I can’t see a way of updating that though I have written in the lower paragraph “Sprint was thinking of WiMax..”.. Your post will help the readers. Thanks for agreeing :)
          Lolz! Thankyou DontKnow :) Yeh aap ki barhai hai mein kya keh sakta hoon :p
          I was actually giving up on explaining & reasoning. But your’s and Ammar’s comments really boosted my strength, thanks for that :)
          It’s nice to see that someone is actually reading & understanding all these long posts. At first I thought it was just self-satisfaction and waste of time…

  • Yes, We are having the cheapest cellular services in the world. This time i am in UAE and i was also thinking about the cellular network in Pakistan. Its cheapest. Here in UAE, i am paying much more than our country….Calls, SMS, International SMS, International calls…and everything…..

  • agreed with cheapest tarif in the world what about the services they offer, aren’t those of cheapest quality in the world as well?

    another thing we cry about is the deceitful adds of cell cos? their hidden charges? their pathetic gprs/edge quality?

    believe me these companies are looting us by offering such complex tarif plans, you know about the literacy rate in our country most of the people even dont know how to feed scratch card number they go to the shop and ask them to feed in, they know nothing about call charges.

    • My Dear,

      One thing you shouldn’t forget is that we belong to a third world developing county. Just get a glance of services and rates offered in developing countries and compare them with Pakistan and then you will come to know that still we are much better than those. Its not fair to compare us with countries like US, UK, Canada and others. Just look at your country first. We are having an ailing economy, terrorism, electricity and gas load shedding and even then we are getting good services from cellular companies. No doubt there is room for improvement but it will be with time.

      And as far as marketing is concerned it is the same every where. No one gives a bad aspect of product. every one try to show the best part. its not limited to cellular industry every industry is doing this every where. Now its up to regulatory authorities to mend their ways.

      • asad sb! I will give u an example of fair advertisment. Pick any celco of african country ghana, on their website they all have given rates inclusive of all taxes in a simple way. Call charges r per second for local and even for international calls. Can u imagine this here in murky world of telecom of our country.

        • Nopes.. Never.. Coz you never know What new Tax is going to imposed on Telecom Sector, When & how Much :p

    • agree wid anwer 100 percent. Quality is also cheapest in the world. They impose additional charges in the name of service improvment, but do nothing. SMS delivery report is a basic service, free of charge in world, but here the case is different. Some networks even dont bother to provide the service.

  • This is criticizing the criticism but a country where a common man earns Rs.200 a day and pays 200 a month in cellular phone cards, that means he/she is paying 1/30 of his/her earning but this there is no unlimited thing in 200. So in other countries do they pay at the same 1/30 ratio ? When you say cheapest in the world, will you give a reference to it?

    • Ahmed thats a nice observation. But you are looking at it only from the consumer’s point of view.
      Our telecom companies are paying for their equipment & infrastructure in Dollars & they are earning in Rupees. They are investing the same amount as other Telco operators around the world and their revenue? Way much less… let’s compare it to those countries who don’t spend 1/30th of their revenue on Telecom related services.
      Average Revenue Per User Per Month (ARPU)
      France: 48.3 to 58.4 USD – 4,288 PKR.
      Chine: 58.10 Yuan – 756 PKR.
      US (Sprint): ~USD 55 – 4,716 PKR.
      India (Bharti Airtel): USD 4.55 – 380 PKR.
      Afghanistan (2007 $11) assume 50% Drop – 471 PKR.
      (IND and AFG are those countries whose users spend around 1/30th of their revenue on telecom services)
      Telenor Pakistan: 218 PKR
      Mobilink Pakistan: 234 PKR
      Average ARPU: not more than $2.
      If we are poor, we can’t earn enough doesn’t mean we should rap* the Telecom Companies. They are also providing jobs to thousands of people.
      If a Honda CD70 bike costs 60,000 Rupees. which is (by your revenue stats) 10 times than an average users income, doesn’t mean I should start complaining and ask Atlas Honda to drop the price to PKR 3000 which is 50% of my monthly income (still expensive) so that I can use it.
      The cheapest thing that you can buy for Rs. 1 is 1 Pirition (Anti-Allergy Tablet) and 1 minute use to a Telco’s infrastructure.

  • good viewpoint, telecom is the only industry which is giving benefit to subscribers due to the healthy competition. all other industries have made cartels and icrease rates for customers.

  • agar ptcl aur wateen chahien to pakistan main 3G aur 4G kab ki mojod hain bas soch ka farq hai nahien to humare jesi koi nation nahien

    • Yep you are right.. Basically EVDO Rev.B (PTCL Evo Nitro – 9.1 Mbps) is 3G.
      Word Call can move to 3G easily.. May be they are I don’t know.
      I don’t know what PTA is thinking…

  • These cheap calls and sms rates have bring more harm than good. Can’t you see how many cheap, vulgar messages surface in one-day. Yes you are right, these telcos only care about there profits.

  • Post holds no water, you should also have mentioned about pathetic services that we receive. It got cheaper because customers grew too much. Can you defend Mobilink selling SIM cards for Rs. 5000 in early days. It is the competition for which they are reducing it and not the customers. Also they can reduce until they earn revenue out of it after paying all expenditures. And they are still not willing to move to 3G. Can you compare B/W between 2G and 3G and then compare prices in pounds/dollars where they get subsidized mobiles by paying 15 to 25 pound / month and getting a 500 pound phone in 200.

      • @Yasir: “And they are still not willing to move to 3G”.

        Do you really think that we have a strong business case to go for 3G in a country like Pakistan? When average ARPU is 218 PKR (Telenor)and 234 PKR (Mobilink), as stated above by Rameez; WHY and HOW would one common subscriber go for Video Calls, Conferencing, Mobile broadband and all those services on offer by 3G? On the other hand, the cost of the infrastructure is too high. Do a cost v benefit analysis and you will agree that in current circumstances, we don’t have a strong business case to go for and to justify for 3G.

        This is my own viewpoint. Everyone has the right to disagree :)


  • im really sorry but your article doesnt make sense, if you were comparing apples with oranges i might have bought what your saying but dude ure comparing an apple with a friggin gobi.
    Tariff are low because this is how big corporates fight out. Capitalism meri jan !
    And secondly your talking about criticism and discontent, look what your doing your whining…

    and lastly dude so what if they move out God has given a thing called brain. It is one of the greatest things :D

    • It makes sense for those who have sense :D. and this is not a grain market to compare apples and oranges :)

  • Rameez, 1st point Hspa is 3.5G u cant compare it to 4G/LTE 2nd Thing I Said 4G isnt Yet Launched in the World Rite ? Can U Telme that do u have an 4G GSM Support SmartPhone ? NO ? Sorry I Cant Hear U ? NO ? ok then dont Talk About 4G GSM ok ? Becouse nO1 in world dosnt has 4G gsm compatibile Smart Phone Yet. And yeah yahan abi tak 3G Launch nahe hua or tm jaiso ko daykh k 4G K bAarey me bAtay karte hovey tho hunsi ati hay Its PAKISTAN Not America and Yeah that is At&t nOt mObilink or whatever!

    • I would like to add one more thing, u still cant make a call on LTE as compared to GSM(2G) or UMTS (3G). Its still just for data. Verizon’s LTE setvice is for data only, for call its switched to CDMA2000 1xRTT. However both the radio’s can work at the same time, so u can talk n surf, which was not possible in Verizon’s 3G network! But there are trials going on for voice over LTE.

    • I think HTC people are becoming oversmart by releasing something called Thunderbolt wwhich is for amazingly 4G network using LTE 700….???
      SK people like you can only laugh at WE Pakistanis as we made the largest deployment of Wimax when rest of the world was thinking about it including your AT&T and yes you can only laugh and will keep on waiting for 3G whereas NSN has tested although at a very small scale its LTE technology not long ago in Pakistan…hey are you alive?? better close your mouth before a fly flies in to check what is running inside you and whether that is even 2G compatible or not.

      • Lolzz! @ the last two lines :P
        I didn’t know NSN tested in Pak here. I thought they were testing in UK.
        And with companies like Huawei & ZTE everything is suddenly affordable. NSN should double their efforts to take the market back from these two.

  • Firstly, I hope you understand the irony of critisizing the critisizm :)

    Secondly, competing just on the basis of price is a race to the bottom and is a terrible idea. What the operators need to do is to INNOVATE and COMPETE on INNOVATION. But if you are uncreative, the only way you can compete is via price.

  • Thanks alot every one for your valuable and important comments. Dont forget to follow me on my blog that is:


  • @SK:
    Oh One more thing.. The soultion for your frequent call drops, low speeds and non-delivered messages is LTE. A 3G Network can accommodate 10 users in one channel. LTE can accommodate 100 Users in one channel. You can accommodate 10x more users without installing another Cell Site. How cost saving is that?
    And it's not about your cell phone anymore. Imagine the portability, ease, cost saving, improved productivity and Revenue for Telco's When you have high-speed no-nonsense INTERNET connectivity anytime, anywhere, everywhere…

  • @SK:
    (| 3G, BUT WHEN? |)
    Tomorrow if PTA issues licenses for 3G, how long will it take to be operational? a year or so? Than a prce war will start and to make it affordable for all the masses, how long will that take? When you would actually be using 3G it will take around 2-3 years. And when you actually start enjoying 3G, you will know that 3G is obsolete & the world has moved on. Don’t look at the short term benefits, look for the long term goals. Why not wait a year or two more and get 4G?
    You said LTE is for Data only. Tell me something, why do you want to move to 3G? Why did we move from 2G to 2.5G (Edge)? Data Speeds.. We want more data speeds. If there is no network congestion the current standards are enough to transfer your voice clearly to the other party. Will you move to 3G if someone told you that Data Speeds will be same just your voice will be more clearer? Neither will you invest in a 3G Phone nor will the Telco. It’s a race for Higher Data Speeds.
    (| NO TECHNOLOGY?? |)
    Though answers to yours questions already exist in my first post. Let me re-iterate, where was WiMax in the world when Wateen launched it in Pakistan? What was the cost of a WiMax Modem at that time and what it is now. how many devices incorporated WiMax at that time and how many do it now?
    You are under estimating the speed at which technology is moving forward.
    2007 Smartphone: Nokia Communicator, 369MHz, 128MB ROM. 2010 Smartphone: Moto Atrix, Dual-Core 1Ghz, 1GB ROM, 512MB RAM, Dedicated Graphics.
    The Technology to make LTE happen already exist, all you need to do is provide them market and the companies will flock towards you to have a piece of it. They don’t care if the its a pirate nation, peace loving or taliban stricken.. It’s all about Business.
    Oh One more thing.. The solution for your frequent call drops, low speeds and non-delivered messages is LTE. A 3G Network can accommodate 10 users in one channel. LTE can accommodate 100 Users in one channel. You can accommodate 10x more users without installing another Cell Site. How cost saving is that?
    And it’s not about your cell phone anymore. Imagine the portability, ease, cost saving, improved productivity and Revenue for Telco’s When you have high-speed no-nonsense INTERNET connectivity anytime, anywhere, everywhere..

  • continued.. from above…

    Let me give you a shocker..
    A company named 4M Wireless, started in 2006, won the GSMA Innovative award for their LTE Solutions. This firm at WMC 2010 demonstrated multiple live video streams, VOIP & Video Conferencing over LTE. Their tech is ready to be deployed on LTE based chipsets.
    Can you tell me where their development offices are? Who works for it?
    A few years back Tell Labs, a large Telecom Firm from UK, bought a new startup which specializes in WiMax and LTE Technologies. Their tech can reduce costs by 50% & decrease network load by upto 70%. This company was?
    -> 1: A group of 4M Wireless developers are in Lahore. Most of the LTE Protocol Stack Developers and Embedded Engineers of 4M Wireless are from Pakistan, most of them graduates of FAST & CIIT Lahore.
    -> WiChorus a startup of an NED Karachi Graduate Rehan Jalil was bought by Tell Labs for $165 Million. Listen to this guy Rehan Jalil here and you will know what I am talking about: http://bit.ly/1toRxm
    WiChorus maintains a development office at Karachi.
    Tum jaise logon ki waja se hum agay nahi bharr rahay, jin ka maqsad baghair kisi logic k tanqeed karna aur jin ki soch dosron ki taqleed karne tak mehdood hai. Aaj se 7 saal pehle aik local zuban k shayer ne bari pyari baat ki thi.. He said “Mein us qaum ko azadi aur agay bharnay k naghmay kya sunawon jin k Jawan dosron ki khairat par pal rahay hon”.
    Now you can laugh at me, criticize me because I am optimistic. Because I haven’t lost hope and Because I Still believe that “WE IN PAKISTAN CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN”.

  • RAMEEZ, leave all diz, Do U Have 4G GSM smartphone ? LoL I want 3G And 3.5G Becouse i have 3.5G Compatible Smart Phone, 4G Isnt 4 mObile userz but yeah 4G Is 4 FuTure. So we want first PRESENT then FUTURE.

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