3G Numbers from Telcos Become Irrelevant!

We just reported that Pakistan has crossed 4 Million 3G users. While I am truly happy to see the figures, I am somewhat concerned about the mechanism we have in place for counting active numbers of 3G subscribers.

During pre-3G era, when mobile companies had to report number of subscribers to PTA, they had to deposit SIM activation tax along with addition of each new reported subscriber. So theoretically each new subscriber used to cost mobile phone companies a sum of Rs. 250 (as SIM activation tax that varied during different periods).

PTA, then or even now, can’t cross check these figures as it doesn’t have any physical access to companies data. Hence, PTA had practically only one option and that was to rely on mobile phone companies for subscribers’ data.

Now when companies are racing for 3G subscribers’ numbers, there’s no activation tax that they have to pay and hence no monetary limitation or any other check that they have to go through for reporting 3G subscribers. They just have to tell a figure to PTA for their 3G subscribers and that’s it. No questions asked.

Since there is no check on telcos from PTA, 3G numbers have become irrelevant 

Given the situation, I think telecom companies are given a free hand in reporting numbers for 3G subscribers, and there is a possibility that they may exploit this freedom. Obviously, they won’t but what I am saying is “They can”.

Consider a operator that is standing at 5 million 3G subscriptions, don’t you think that it would want to look strong by posing that it has 10 million subscribers? That’s how it can leave a good impression on subscribers and of course the investors (more crucial for public limited companies). More stock value, better brand positioning and what not… just by reporting fake numbers; especially when no one can catch you.

Who won’t do it? Only a perfect saint.

Zong — in a company statement issued yesterday — said that it had crossed 1 Million 3G users last month, or in September 2014 (considering it is October now and last month was September 2014).

Apparently Zong took 109 days to add 866,000 3G users but added 136,000 3G users in just two days

Below is what exactly Zong’s PR read:

Lahore – 30th October, 2014:  Zong, a subsidiary of China Mobile Communications Corporation (CMCC) and Pakistan’s first and only 4G mobile service, today celebrated crossing one million ‘Super 3G’ customers, a milestone it achieved last month, at an event in Lahore.

While I am in no position to challenge this claim, let me show you how the company has proceeded with 3G subscribers.

Here are few facts for your review:

  • Zong commercially launched its services on June 12th, 2014 in Lahore and Karachi — Islamabad was added two weeks later (Link)
  • On September 28th, Zong’s CEO publicly said that his company had 866,000 3G users (Link)
  • Zong crossed 1 Million 3G Users last month (Link)
  • Timeline for Zong’s subscribers:
    • Zong had 866,000 3G subscribers on September 28th, 2014
    • Zong had 1,000,000 (one million) 3G subscribers on September 30th, 2014 (Last possible day of last month)
  • Hence:
    • Zong added 866,000 3G users in 109 days
    • Zong added another 136,000 3g users in two working days

I am not concluding anything here, neither I am saying that stats reported by Zong are fake. Rather I am leaving it to you to decide!

You can share your thoughts in below comments.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK

  • They probably mis mention the date, instead of giving this month date they give last month, #justAthought.

    2ndly, they are probably calling a user (3G user) if the even activated 3G even for 1 day than never used again. So these # doesn’t attract.

    3rd, 3G packages are quite expensive yet, People aren’t using much (#assumption). PTCLBB avg customer having 2Mb means cost 1500 for unlimited download (100GB) as compare to 3G package where max data rate is 30GB with 3500.

    4th if mobile internet is growing too quickly why PTCL having a Good sleep, why they aren’t competing with EVO

    So i am sure this data is pathetic.

    • Currently the definition for 3G is user is the one who carries out one paid 3G activity with-in 90 days. Even with this definition, does it make sense to you what these stats claim?

      • so anyone who was on a 3G network 3 months ago for 10 minutes is being count, the method for counting these figures gives you too wide range to add any number of ppl to it, PTA need to set a proper method to make sure next time these figures are announced they are proper, it should be at least under a week. if pak has 4 Million 3G users, how many of these are actually active on weekly bases, that’s what i want to know, but i don’t think anyone is ready to give out these figures just yet

      • SO if zong is offering free 3G in ide number of aera and many city and zong start charging without notice they all become 3G customer. ;)

  • GSM(MOBILE) 3G/4G is considered hassle free and superior data service which has no comparison with any other service all over the world.4 million 3G/4G figure is not a very big figure as total GSM subscribers are more than 13 crore.In data hungry market of Pakistan, this figure would have been 6 million instead of 4 million uptill now.The reason for this less growth is that these companies are upgrading their cell sites gradually to 3G.If they speed up the process, the figure of 10 million customers will be an ordinary thing within 4 months.Remember one thing many customers are enjoying internet service through 3G/4G first time due to already well established GSM network of all cellular operators.So figure of 4 million is ordinary figure.

  • if Zong has 136,000 employees working of them maybe they all started using 3G in these 2 working days XD

  • Haha. Great catch.

    But let me assure, it’s not just Zong. EVERY operator is lying about their 3G customers count.
    Can operators share the figure they’ve earned from 3G, so far?? The big thing!

    • You can see Telenor revenue jumps up by 6% during last quarter.One out of three reasons for this revenue raise is 1.3 Million 3G customers in their account.Report is available on ProPakistani website.

  • Let’s do some math; if Zong added 866,000 subscribers in first 109 days, it means that they added 7944 subscribers per day in the first 109 days, and in the other two days (which are consecutive to first mentioned 109 days) they added 68000 (i.e. 136,000 / 2) subscribers per day, it means an increase of 855% in just two days, they should be given some award man! hahahahaha!!!

    • It is just typing mistake by the company.Achieving 1 million 3G customers is not a big thing.All other operators Telenor, Mobilink, Ufone have achieved this milestone.

  • I really doubt that Zong and telenor crossed 1 m subscribers for 3G, as zong only offering same tariiff plan for 2G/3G users. How do zong knows that user at the other end is 3G user. Well for Mobilink it can be said that they crossed that 1 million mark becuase od their enhanced data plans and better carpet coverage.

  • why should i care since there is no unlimited bundle package for 3g this sucks everytime,laanat ho 3g operators and especially pta

      • Mobilink has also extended its date upto 30 November.I think they will continue this unlimited packages afterwards as they have attracted huge number of customers from these packages.

    • I dont know why ppl think that they can get unlimited data on 3G/4G … You need to understand that its internet on the go and its not for downloading torrents…

      • 3G/4G is like normal DSL.If Mobilink has promised unlimited download at Rs 600/ per month, it must be available.I think, there will be some technical problem in a particular cell/BTS of customer which he should refer to Mobilink for redressal. All these complaints will be resolved as the time will pass when 3G/4G operators will focus more on quality.Provision of unlimited data download is not a problem for a giant like Mobilink.It is further stated that the average data use of 75% existing users of all Broadband technologies(DSL,EVO,WiMAX,2G,3G,4G,FTTH etc) is around 20GB per month.Only 25% customers use data more than 20GB per month.

        • My friend 3G/4G is not normal DSL.. Home DSL and 3G/4G are different.. 3G/4G is the one which can be used on the Go…

          • Dear definitely they are different but their purpose ie accessing internet is same.Technologies are different.One is wired(HomeDSL) while other is wireless.Wired Broadband is normally accessed through Desktop, Laptop etc while Wireless Broadband is normally accessed through smartphones,Tablets etc.The purpose of both these technologies is same ie accessing data through internet.You also see one thing common between both ie data volume.Sometimes it is 20GB for Home DSL, Sometimes it is same 20GB for 3G/4G.However it is a endless long debate.Things will become clear for all consumers with the passage of time.

  • why this is so much concern for every one, how many 3g subscriber they have added, all its matter is how better they are performing. So far Zong 3g is well ahead of all other operators at least in khi.

  • عمران خان کو پتا چل گیا… تو زونگ کا یہ جھوٹ بھی نواز شریف کے کھاتے میں ڈال دے گا

  • Telcos have to translate subscriber base in Dollar value as well to their stake holders. So if one company claims 1Mill users but its revenue varies significantly than their stake holders can easily put a check on that.

  • Useless report.You are talking in like these companies are some cheap thirdclass criminals who can do anything.Bhai the corporate structure doesn’t work like this,especially a international group such as Telenor or Zong etc wouldn’t like risking their reputation by such cheap publicity tactics.
    Limited companies have fiduciary duties to appoint auditors of the company,these auditors are not only to assess the internal controls and financials of the company but also are to enusre that the company doesn’t make a false statement in the public.If the auditors find that the company has lied in any of the scheme or any matter than they ought to report it to the public.
    So normally big corporations usually don’t do that.However there are cases where high profile companies managed to make collusion with the auditor and posted bogus results and statements(remember enron scandal in US).
    Lastly good reputation is not acheivied only by customer base,alot of depends upon financials as well.If the financial record is good,you will find happy investors and good stock value.Small organisations do make cheap tactics,good and sound organisations usually don’t.This article was nothing but mainly a negative thinking approach and wasn’t really worth a news.

      • Thats what you think my brother.I am an auditor myself.

        My point is simple,this story was a useless article,if you think investors get attracted by customer base than you are wrong.The first thing any investor would like to know is the previous financial results of the company.

        Jo bat aap ker rahay ho wo chotey investors k liye ha,institutional investors aisey nae sochtey.

        • Agreed, Zong may not public wrong figures from their CEO statement, which is 866,000 3G subscribers, but the other one”Zong Celebrates 1 Million 3G Users by Giving Away 2 iPads” is more likely a promotion tactic rather than actual figures. May be they are very close to 1 Million.

          As a Marketing Student, Some time advertiser’s promise is more than actual offering, which is not good but this is actually happening; even this is done by big names of US or EU.

          This, so called promise gap is huge in Zong case i.e. 866,000 in two days :) Caught it!

  • who cares? what will this information bring to us? even if they are not lying will that change anything for us? Nothing! so I don’t see a reason to worry or even read about such stuff that don’t count.
    P.S : I live in hyderabad and we don’t have 3G from Ufone only :( I use Ufone.

  • well amir u forgot to consider one thing here zong launched 4g on 27th september along with it zong launched 3g in faisalabad, peshawar, quetta as well considering this addition this can be possible, more over coverage area of lahore was also increased on the very same day… so this can be possible as they made 3g/4g announcements new customers would have been definitley attracted to it and started using 3g atleast in my opinion….. even i started using 3g when zong made commercial announcement of 4g coz my area wasnt covered before that nd im talking about lahore.

  • wo jo rs.600 mein offer aye hai mobiliknk ka unlimited wo sirf 3gb quota hai ,same quota package for 4g ,mobile co. and pta sucks

    • Bhai 3gb nahi 30gb hai ap check karo aur mai 30gb download kar chuka hun package abhi bhi chal raha speed aala hai mobilink 3g ki mera balance zero hai

      • This 30 GB Data volume 3G package of Mobilink after which 2G is unlimited at Rs 600/ per month is awesome offer.Other companies should follow same.

  • Good work AA in challenging industry gimmicks and Regulatory weaknesses in Telecoms. I wish somebody had similar blog to expose mischiefs in Pakistan’s energy sector and ineffectiveness of NEPRA. In fact, all sectors of the economy need Pro-Pakistanis.

  • Such reports are written by people who have no understanding of technology.

    First, 3G doesnt only mean data/ internet. 3G offers superior voice quality as well. It all depends upon operator technical strategy. For example, the operator I work for ( in KSA) had till a year ago; the strategy that in idle mode; all mobiles will be on 3G cell unless there is no coverage of 3G. Once the user initiates a voice call, the network will move the mobile from 3G cell to 2G cell & let her complete the call. But if the same user initiates a packet (data) session, the mobile remains on 3G. Also, sometimes your 2G layer is completely congested & in that case, the call proceeds/remains on 3G.

    This year, the operator changed its strategy. Now, even 3G is the preferred layer for both voice & data. Even if the user moves to 2G ( due to poor coverage of 3G), the network keeps on trying to pull her back to 3G as soon as she moves in better coverage of 3G.
    ( The basis is, the operator wants to dismantle 2G to free spectrum for 3G & 4G).
    We saw that now our 2G network is absolutely underutilized & 3G started to have congestion. We started to free up frequency from 2G & gave it to 3G.

    So, in such scenario, how can you say this is 3G user & this is 2G user?? Indeed, if I am an operator in Pakistan, I can simply force all my 2G subscribers to 3G with three or four software (RF) parameters. Nobody can stop me. Only those subscribers who do not have 3G capable handset; will stay on 2G. Indeed, the operators will do it one day; since they have paid so much of money & they will try to push some traffic on 3G so as to (1) reduce congestion on 2G. (2) Give the user better voice/data experience.

    From my 3 years of experience living in 3G enabled country, I can tell for sure that the voice quality in 3G is much much better than 2G.

    So, here, the operators are just telling us, that these much number of subscribers have willingly chosen 3G. Thats to say, they are telling us, “Look, we didnt do a wrong investment” etc.

    OTHERWISE, if the operator wants, he can force all 2G users to move to 3G. I am sure they will do it once they have blanket coverage of 3G in cities. They may also offer 3G handsets on leasing offers/ lower prices.

    • Sure 3G/4G also have superior voice quality alongwith superior data service.That is why customers are shifting to 3G/4G all over the world due to its superior qualities.4 million 3G consumers is ordinary figure.However PTA can officially confirm it.It would have been 6 million uptil now if 3G Rollouts were accelerated.

  • sorry aamir bhai but this whole article is rubbish in a sense that it dont have any value to end users, whether companies lie or not regarding its 3g users its a total subjective topic. what matter for us is how they perform, their overall quality & you people should put or research about the quality of service, 3g coverage and many other aspects company wise, so we able to judge which co. is at the top at the moment.
    for me the biggest issue at the moment for 3g operators are their very bad coverage, even in cities they launched more than half the areas are not covered or if covered very bad or weak signals, first of all they need to improve their coverage overall, i live in garden east area heart land of karachi city and as per coverage map all operators have 3g coverage in my area but i only get 2 to 3 signal of zong in my room, i only able to get other operator signals when i was in open air. all operators should give focus on their blanket 3g coverage in the cities where service is launched otherwise we can only have limited advantages from it.

    • It is just start and people are facing problem in accessing data through 3G/4G due to quality of service.Companies will have to work very hard for maintaining quality in the market.It is not an easy competition.Quality service will prevail at the last wheather it is PTCL,Wateen etc or 3G/4G service.Just wait and see.

  • well at least i know that excluding pakistan there are 3g/4g operators on export countries which provided unlimited download just as wifi

    • Unlimited download from 3G/4G is no problem for Giants like Telenor, Zong, Mobilink, Ufone, Warid.They have to improve quality of network by adding more cell sites, upgrading media(addition of more bandwidth) from cells with core network, careful monitoring of RF parameters etc.

  • We need genuine cut throat competition to enjoy more speed less payment. Any Cartel on mobile sides will drain our Pockets. DailyMotion improving rapidly on the long closure of Youtube in Pakistan

  • sorry bhai it was 30 i accidentally typed 3 instead but still when the offer will get expired then it will start using quota i’m sure about it

  • can’t really understand the obsession with 3G or 4G user Numbers! Once you get the Network up & running then surely everyone with a SMARTPHONE (not QMobile or Voice one) will automatically come in a subscriber base by default..

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