Telcos Denounce PTA’s 3G Figures

At least two mobile phone operators have shown their discontent over the 3G stats released by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority yesterday, we have learned through sources.

Mobile phone companies believe that competition is mis-reporting their 3G users to gain market position, while there is no check from regulator on the reported stats.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had released stats for 3G users, according to which total 3G base has crossed 5 Million mark in Pakistan.

According to PTA, Zong, Mobilink and Telenor had 1.6 million, 1.4 and 1.1 million 3G users respectively. While Ufone was reported to have 647K 3G users at the end of November.

According to PTA, below table is how mobile companies added their 3G customers for last four months:

3G_Users

If we look at the table, Ufone’s 3G count was Zero till September 30th, 2014, which clearly shouldn’t be the case.

Even if we consider that Ufone didn’t report any 3G subscriber during first three months (which would be very odd in itself and PTA should have made sure about data reporting before making it public), there are some other dis-ambiguities that concern many minds.

For example, according to the these stats, Zong had 947,363 customers at the end of September 2014. However, in one of its press-release Zong had said that it crossed 1 million 3G customers in September 2014.

Here’s excerpt from Zong’s press release:

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.

We aren’t sure what exactly to believe, PTA’s stats or the official press release. Both are utterly contradicting.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority should either develop a mechanism for cross-checking these 3G stats, or it should not report 3G stats at all

Not to mention, just two days ahead, on September 28th, 2014, Zong’s CEO in his keynotes at the launch of Zong’s 4G launch had claimed that his company had some 866,000 3G users till then (Link).

Which means, Zong added some 81,363 3G users in just two days, which in itself should be a record.

We just hope that Zong isn’t counting its 2G data users as 3G customers, just because their tariff for 2G and 3G is exactly the same.

The point is that there is no cross-check from regulator on how many 3G users mobile phone companies have.

When asked from PTA, it confirmed that stats were provided by operators and PTA considers them correct without any cross-check.

This essentially means that any operator can report any number of 3G users and generate a lot of buzz and that would be it. No questions asked.

Not to be mentioned, we had similar concerns over reporting of 2G subscribers. PTA couldn’t re-check the number of 2G users as well, and hence only relied on stats provided by telecom operators. But since there used to be an activation fee associated with each new 2G customers, taxes and audits used to cross-verify the stats and hence it was somewhat acceptable to rely on operators for 2G users.

However, now, in case of 3G users — operators just have to tell PTA that this many million customers converted to 3G and that would be it.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority should either develop a mechanism for cross-checking these 3G stats, or it should not report 3G stats at all. As they don’t make any sense.

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