Broadband services in Pakistan have penetrated well in urban areas, still the growth rate is yet to see the enormousness – and the main reason is the inaccessibility of broadband services in rural areas.
Due to limited investments, broadband service providers are mainly limited to the major cities of the country.
Even in larger cities, the quality of service for internet service providers remains a question mark. This is mainly due to old copper media for landline connections which prevents reliable service available for home-users who are 1,500 meters or farer from the telephone exchange he/she is getting services.
This constraint compelled investors to bring wireless broadband services such as WiMAX
and EvDO which started a fierce competition between fixed vs. wireless broadband
Resultantly, coverage, quality of service, marketing and tariffs were positively effected and industry statistics got a new boost as more subscribers started to join the broadband clan.
The growing trend of wireless uptake by the general public will shun the dependency on fixed line parameters.
There are currently 1,140,781 broadband subscribers in Pakistan as compared to 643,892 at the end of December, 2009 showing a 77% growth over the last calendar year.
Despite the fact that growth rate lowered in year 2010 as compared to previous year, still, it must be noted that the number of net additions this year (496,889) are more than that of last year (376,712).
Currently, broadband penetration of the country stands at 0.66% at the end of December, 2010 which was 0.39% in December 2009, depicting almost 69% growth in just one year.
It is also a fact that Broadband is still an emerging phenomenon with inherent constraints associated with it like lack of connectivity to rural areas, low literacy rate, lack of local content and applications etc., therefore, it will take some time for the penetration level to reach the high mark.
Major Broadband Players
PTCL, Wateen, WorldCall and wi-tribe are the biggest broadband operators of Pakistan having a combined share of over 90 percent.
PTCL holds 55% market share having 626,748 subscribers with both its DSL and EvDO services topping in their respective broadband technology charts.
PTCL has added the highest number of new broadband subscribers as well i.e. 294,481 showing 89% growth rate in the previous year.
Wateen, out of the 232,541 subscribers, added 81,526 subscribers in the previous year with a 54% growth rate which is much lesser than its direct competitor PTCL.
With 125% growth rate during calendar year 2010 and 122,813 subscribers, WorldCall has been the standout operator in terms of growth rate whereas it added 68,128 new subscribers as well.
Wi-Tribe follows World Call closely in terms of growth rate as it added 40,064 new subscribers depicting 118% growth during the last calendar year. Link Dot Net stays at the fifth spot with 36,391 subscribers up 28% from December 2009.
Technology Wise Broadband Market Share
Broadband market of Pakistan is a true amalgamation of latest fixed and wireless technologies from around the world. Ranging from primitive fixed line technologies like Cable TV, FTTH and DSL to latest wireless technologies like WiMAX and EvDO, the nation has a variety of options when selecting a suitable broadband package.
Figures show a historical view of Pakistan’s broadband technology evolution over the years. DSL ruled the broadband market of Pakistan since 2007 due to an established fixed line infrastructure by the incumbent, PTCL.
HFC and WiMAX broke the monopoly of DSL by getting a combined chunk of almost 37% in the market in 2007-08. The scenario changed again when WiMAX truly established itself as a viable wireless broadband solution and EvDO made a promising start in the market however, HFC declined sharply due to introduction of new technologies.
Currently, there exists a fierce competition between fixed and wireless technologies as EvDO and WiMAX are collectively increasing their market share over DSL and other fixed line services.
Note: All stats, figures are taken from PTA’s quarterly report – and are till December 2010