Overview Of WiMAX In Pakistan

WiMAX-Pakistan

By Samia Rehman

Thursday, 7th February 2008 marks the day when WiMax Broadband Internet was officially rolled out in Pakistan. The launch of WiMax wireless internet in Pakistan positioned Pakistan as the first country to roll out WiMax services throughout the whole country in the world.

This milestone was achieved by Wateen Telecom, an Abu Dhabi Group venture that began its operation in Pakistan in 2007.

Soon after WiMax wireless internet connection was rolled out, rumors of the service facing severe setbacks began floating in the air and year 2009 was termed the ‘make or break year for WiMAX’.

It was also then that no further expansion of WiMAX was foreseen by Mobilink Infinity which had limited its services to Karachi only. Whereas, Wateen and wi-tribe maintained a stagnant yet active position in all major cities of Pakistan.

Not only was the expansion of WiMAX services a problem but the easy and inexpensive availability of various kinds of wireless internet connections also gave WiMAX a stiff competition in the market. The paradigm shift from traditional dial up internet connections to broadband internet and further more to high speed WiMAX wireless internet connections was nearly impossible then.

On an organizational level, the competition began to stiffen when Wateen met with competition in the market with wi-tribe and Mobilink Infinity moving towards launching WiMAX services with competitive packages, giving the general population a variety of broadband internet services in Pakistan.

In 2010, the severity of competition peaked when Qubee, a UK based company wholly owned by Augere Group deployed WiMAX in Pakistan with an approximate of $70 million investment. Despite all the intense competition, according to a survey based on quality service conducted by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority earlier this year, Wateen topped in overall standings for all broadband wireless internet providers in the country.

It was in the year 2010 when Pakistan reached its first milestone of over 1 million broadband subscribers in the country. But what came as a surprise was the number of WiMAX subscribers which had reached the 306,665 mark and becoming the second most popular wireless internet connections after DSL.

By 2012, the total number of broadband subscribers in Pakistan topped to 1.7 million out of which 459,790 amounted to the number of WiMAX subscribers.

WiMAX Forum President Declan Byrne said that,

“WiMAX technology has achieved a penetration rate of 50% of all broadband connections in urban centres in Pakistan. This success of the technology is unparalleled anywhere else in the world. I am delighted to come to Pakistan and look forward to returning to continue supporting the success of WiMax operators in the country.”

Undoubtedly, the growth of WiMAX and its stronghold in the market cannot be pared down. It is inevitable that the future lies in wireless broadband internet connections since they can substitute fixed broadband (DSL) through mobile internet and wi-fi hotspots.

The WiMAX technology is definitely a serious competitor in the future for broadband in Pakistan since it has the ability to roll out broadband very quickly so operators can speedily expand their footprints if things work out with telcos. Not to ignore the fact that the highest penetration of WiMAX globally is witnessed in Pakistan, with WiMAX being nearly one in every three wireless connections.

Looking into the future prospects, if the need for wireless broadband is established, there is a huge market for WiMAX subscriptions in each of the 27 million households in Pakistan. In Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and Rawalpindi alone, the penetration possibility hovers over 7 million households.

WiMAX can reach to its peak potential if the need of wireless and mobile broadband internet becomes prevalent in the economy. Just like how dial up internet has become an old school adage, no sooner than a couple of years will DSL also come in line with it. It’s just a matter of the need of mobile connectivity to take its’ peak in Pakistan.

Writer is a social media enthusiast who loves to explore technology with special focus on IT and telecom. You can reach her on twitter here @samiabr


  • Zeeshan Shahid

    I’m no techie but always wonder if wi-tribe, qubee etc. can be configured directly on wimax enabled cell phones.

  • Wimax has really been good despite some blindspots still in Karachi city. Here at seaview, my wired Worldcall connection went down for a whole month and we just kept waiting for them to come and fix it. Nearly month later I got frustrated and tried WiMax for the first time.

    Wateen = No signal at house, at all
    Witribe= Half signals and very slow browsing
    Qubee = Full signals and good speed

    Since then we have both Qubee Wimax and Wordlcall connections at home and frankly, Qubee runs better most of the time.

  • Muhammad Anas

    @Zeeshan Shahid and @Admin

    Me too. I’m curious to know if we get wimax subscription while having a wimax adapter installed on the laptop. In my case I have Intel Centrion Advance Wimax adapter and curious to know if it can be used for availing the service of any wimax operator here in Pakistan.

    @Admin
    If you have any clue about it please do let me know. I have contacted with Qubee for the same but they are not getting me at all.

  • Soul

    Its not the matter of performance. But it is a harsh fact that all these wimax companies are struggling even to pay their employees. Thats why they regularly downsize their human resource :P
    With this speed there is no chance that they can become stable in their business!

  • I wonder if World Call wireless USB dongle, and PTCL Evo brand (3G etc) can be considered Wimax? By the way I am using PTCL Nitro cloud and it is kinda awesome.

    • Sumair

      Whaaaaaaat?? :-/ PTCL Evo and WiMax are two different technologies…….PTCL EVO and World Call are using EV-DO Rev A, and EVO Nitro is using EV-DO Rev B!!

  • Zaki

    PTCL just rocks for us, cuz if ptcl wasnt there, we werent be using broadband at all, these fishie companies just are in majour contries khi, lhr, isl, and they say its a great expansion, duh, although ptcl’s service sucks some times, but we are actually using broadband!

  • Ali

    I wonder if the writer has actually the idea of what is happening in the technology world?? LTE is the future…. WIMAX is a failure around the world, i wonder how can someone predict WIMAX as the future….WIMAX is still struggling in Pakistan and i dont see any future of it, all WIMAX companies are the the verge of collapse… people who are in this industry knows very well the situation of all WIMAX operators in Pakistan

    • Khurram

      I second you. Writer is over optimistic about wimax (perhaps working in any company out of these 4 wimax operators). wimax is going to history very soon like amps or any other obsolete technology.

    • Ali

      Your understanding is somehow correct and incorrect. LTE is the future no doubt but it is for mobility. Means operators like GSM would take that and it will give more capacity.

      These wimax operators are fixed. They are in losses because of bad planning and competition. Wateen burnt money without business plan. Witribe on other hand has started being profitable. Two points to note

      – LTE would help if these networks were choked. Both at moment are not behind 70%
      – from wimaxforum you can see that there is no major difference in throughput

  • It is more wish than reality to say that DSL will follow the route of dial-up. With Wateen having already closed its business offices and taken other downward steps, one does not expect WiMAX to replace DSL, especially in view of very attractive packages that PTC is offering, such as unlimited phone calls and unlimited downloads. With the biggest WiMAX operator downsizing Internet services, how can it replace DSL any time soon?

  • Muhammad Anas

    So No no one has an answer for me Sad!

  • Thanks for providing this overview of wimax in Pakistan.This gives an extra information not just in Pakistan as well as in the other part of the country. And its a great help to read an overviews and learn how to shop wireless broadband internet [ shop wireless broadband internet (dot) com ] for future purposes.

  • Ahmad

    its true that WiMax operators are strugling but in the end of this year u will hear news that WiMax operators have started generating revenue and are much stable with best services, processes has been started 3moths before and changes has been made.