3G Appears to be the Only Concern

confused-quotes-12Having remained a topic of discussion for a few years now, 3G continues to provide enough fodder for many in-depth debates within Pakistan’s telecommunication industry.

Briefings to the President and Prime Minister to showcase the dependence of growth within the industry, and possibly the country, with the licensing of extra bandwidth to cellular service providers have fueled the prediction workshop.

Many are wondering when and who will get us the 3G, but the key question is how.

There is no shortage of complaints against the 5 mobile service providers in the country, as is the case in the rest of the world. Quality of service has remained a bone of contention, with very little effort made by the regulatory authority or the providers to address concerns. Reprimands and fines have yielded some change, but nothing to give a 99% approval to any service provider on its customer service and network optimization.

If the expectation is that 3G would bring radical improvement to the industry, then it is a wonderful vision. But certain factors undermine this vision. With a stated 65% penetration of mobile services, quality of 2/2.5G is abysmal in many areas. Furthermore, with only an estimated 5% of subscribers being mobile data users, the GPRS/EDGE provision maintained by the providers raises questions on their actual adherence to value addition. If this is the buffet currently on offer, will higher speed of service really change the taste?

Over time, consumers have asked for access to faster data services. And with the influx of a vast array of smartphones in the market, most want to make full use of the devices on par with consumers of many other nations. But there are huge differences in the consumer segment of other nations and Pakistan.

With a larger prepaid block, average revenue per subscriber is around US$3. This does not hold much promise for service providers to invest further within their network.

One needs to understand the costs and time involved. Apart from the millions and possibly, a billion that the government dreams of making through the licensing process there will be the need for investment in infrastructure and technology.

This is further cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. On a time scale, it is unlikely that 3G can be implemented before the end of 2012 and that too in the urban centers. For such heavy investment, can any provider expect return at complementary levels?

Moreover, how long will it be able to keep the consumer happy as the world moves to 4G and LTE? Will there be another cry after a few years for upgrade?

Innovation is no doubt a key factor in the technology sector. It is what keeps the industry running on full steam and ensures attractiveness for the end-user. However, the dimensions of the Pakistani market do not resonate any other 3G-enabled nation. Could the technology be used to bring a change to the entire market?

While time will tell what eventuates in the coming months, one hopes that irrespective of 3G entering the fray or not, mobile service providers can take some time to leave the strategy tables and hammer their current network into shape for the 105 million paying consumers of today.


  • Ok honestly, the topic is not even interesting anymore.

    Those who want 3G can resort to PTCL Evo, rest should just shut up and stop whining about it. Thanks!

    • no.mercy

      eVo is 3G hahahah what a joke! Evo is even worst then 1 Mbps Landline DSL

  • Ahmed

    PTA can’t start the auction for 3G license as Musharraf’s Govt had decided that there will be no new license before 2013. This Government needs to start a diallogue with Etisalat for that.

    Source: Daily Jang 5th September 2011.
    http://e.jang.com.pk/09-05-2011/Karachi/pic.asp?picname=1044.gif

    • admin

      Pakistan had agreed not to auction LDI license – this limitation doesn’t apply on 3G licenses.

      It’s a pity that PTCL sale purchase agreement is never made public. I wonder why their shareholders are not demanding for SPA, after all it’s a public limited.

  • License

    Admin not just LDI, LL/WLL and any other telecom. Agree with you hundred percent on document be made public. Some citizen must file a case for it and I’m sure courts will grant it. But till 2013 no Telecom license can be issued. Only I think exception was ISP, pay phone or some new infrastructure and Telecom tower management license. But LDI LL/WLL Cellular definitely put on watch and hold till 2013. Anyway not too far away now. After next election we will get 3G looks like.

    • admin

      Without seeing SPA no one can be certain – like i have heard about LDI license only, while you and this jang guy is claiming about LDI/WLL/GSM license.. let’s see

  • Adnan

    Well friend we dont expect any thing in any sector from this govt. Now we should thought seriously that why we vote for such govt. Which will not full fill our desire. Its time to vote carefully. Believe me if i am on a responsible post then i never select zardari , gillani even most of assembly members for the post of office boy servent

  • Salman Abbas

    The number of data users will increase once we have 3G, i believe.

    • omer

      yes , many will switch from dsl/wimax/evo . and a new “data customer” base will rise who will love to watch online TV and youtube. etc on their hand sets

      • Stone

        No they won’t! Mobile data is much more expensive and always capped! Doesn’t make sense for any company to invest millions of dolalrs for hardly 2% of its customers.

    • no.mercy

      +1 salman

  • Nauman Afzal

    I have lost interest in this thing since long. I don’t expect any action from the jerks in power circles.

  • Jawad

    Well i think instead of waiting for 3G from cellular operaters they should change there strategy, binding with wimax companies and i think we have a large Wimax infrastructure over here in pak, and it can easily sustain cousumer needs. All i have to say that it can be like Sprint operator strategy.

  • License

    Admin, I asked PTA. Very easy way to check. Just go to PTA and apply for LL/WLL and other licenses. They will tell you it is on watch and hold and come back in 2013. Simple.

  • Naseer

    The reason for 5% data users is that FAST mobile internet connections aren’t provided and so nobody uses it tht often , if people are given a faster connection then people will definitely use the 3G service not to mention , this blog has showed statistics of growth of mobile users in Pakistan and when soo many people are buying such high end devices they are obviously craving for a fast internet connection, people use their household Wifi connection or hotspots in cafes rather than wasting their money on such slow internet connection.

  • Copper

    Do you guyz have some partnership with Express Tribune? Many articles from this site pop up there like this one.

    • admin

      Yes, we have agreed to reproduce each other’s articles at will.

  • I am hoping that we can get more mobile networks in Pakistan other than existing :D

    3G networks only.

  • Well am waiting for arrival of 3G technologies in Pakistan, so that job opportunities can be created for fresh telecom engineers.

  • Aizaz

    Government should provide them with enough power for running even GSM MSC and BSC.
    Government should invest in 3G with mobile operators. Government should care about providing food and shelter for which they have been promising from years…

    Government should focus to improve common men life. 3G and all that comes after it. First they should care about good governance.

    Logon kay pas khanay kay lyea pesay ni hain, enko 3G key pare hai. ooo bahi phele Pakistan tu bcha lo.

  • Aizaz

    humaray politicians itnay baray haramy hain.. apny jabain bhareee jaa rhay hain..Karachi mei kya ho rha hai vo Chief Justice ko be nazar ni aa rha.. sare andhay ho gay hain.

  • syed wasim

    thats g8.ya Allah tara shuker ha hmari telecom b kch agy bray gi.

  • Hassnain

    Comments on Author Statement “With a larger prepaid block, average revenue per subscriber is around US$3. This does not hold much promise for service providers to invest further within their network.”

    3G indeed can help mobile service providers to turn around the falling trend in ARPU by inducing new revenue streams, specially in terms of new data services. The 3G trends in global market as well as regional markets with similar dynamics show good prospects.
    Indian 3G can be a very good case study for analysing Pakistan 3G scenario,Specially considering the post 3G data growth there and then compare it with pre 3G + 3G Ramp Up time negativity from ICT guru`s.

    However author`s concern for 3G in current Global LTE/4G scenario is very valid.