Here’s Why More than 75% Mobile Users Aren’t Happy with 3G Services

When Pakistani operators launched 3G and 4G services last year, millions of users — who were previously relying on mostly stagnant and fixed internet only — rushed to adopt wireless broadband services. This uptake of 3G and 4G services was so massive that around 15 million Mobile phone users shifted to 3G/4G networks within the first year of service availability, almost double what experts had estimated in the start.

This super adoption of 3G and 4G networks came with certain exceptions, however, operators have arguably failed to match them due to reasons that are widely known in the industry.


According to a POLL that ran on ProPakistani for over a week, almost 75% of respondents said that they aren’t fully happy with 3G services, with more than 46% of respondents rating the 3G services not satisfactory at all; hinting that a large majority of mobile phone users in Pakistan aren’t contented with 3G services.

Detailed Poll results remained as following:


Limited 3G Spectrum

Industry experts, and in fact operators themselves too, believe that size of spectrum auctioned per operator by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is one bottleneck that is responsible for the substandard 3G services.

While other countries were offering up to 40Mhz per operator and beyond for 3G services, only 5Mhz spectrum for Telenor and Ufone and 10Mhz spectrum for Zong and Mobilink has started to cause bandwidth capacity issues for the operators.

Michael Foley, CEO Telenor Pakistan, told ProPakistani few months back that his company will start facing congestion issues for 3G services with 5Mhz and almost same is the case with Ufone.

We constantly get reports from users who face quality of service issues from areas that performed well during initial days, but with time — as the user base is growing — quality of service is only deteriorating.

Considering on-ground financial situation of operators and abundant issues we face as a country, it appears that another auction is not possible during next 6-12 months. That will mean operators have to make do with the current spectrum and consumers will be the ones to bear the brunt in shape of substandard 3G services.


PTA’s strategy of selling two 5Mhz blocks and two 10Mhz blocks for a total of four operators, confined operator’s ability to offer better speeds and slashed the competition in auction that caused serious loss to national exchequer and operators

A real question, in this scenario, raises that why PTA auctioned just 5Mhz of spectrum for two operators when these capacity bottlenecks were foreseen and imminent.

It won’t be out of place to mention that an audit report has questioned PTA on same topic but with a different angle. According to the report, this strategy of selling two 5Mhz blocks and two 10Mhz blocks for a total of four operators, PTA slashed the competition that caused some serious loss to national exchequer.

Not to mention, Pakistan sold a total of 30Mhz of spectrum for USD 902.92 million through bidding, with only US 15 million earned above the base price of USD 885 million.

Price Wars Continue

As before 3G/4G times, operators are still embroiled in price wars, drastically cutting into profit margins . Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, that has tried to take control of telecom tariffs through a regulation, has effectively failed to set a price floor.

Decreasing revenues from SMS and voice (thanks to smart apps and high-speed broadband), data services are still not generating enough revenues for operators as they could and hence the ROI proposition is leaving them to invest less on networks and reap more from inferior quality of service.

PTA, for once, has to step into this to ensure that Pakistani telecom market sustains the challenges of data-driven revenues.3G-in-Pakistan

At a time when global and regional operators are relying heavily on data revenues, Pakistani operators are struggling to reap better ARPUs through 3G and 4G services than they had with voice and SMS

Number Games

Telecom operators in Pakistan have been long relying on numbers. Number of customers, number of cities with 3G coverage and other similar vectors with numbers are what they give attention to the most. Customer satisfaction is sadly not one of them.

Such approaches compel them to offer services to more areas, without considering the quality of service KPIs or customer satisfaction.

This is probably why we hear the news of number of 3G covered cities by operators, but no coverage maps or false coverage maps.

Its now high time that operators start keeping customers experience as their primary scale for measuring success.

PTA’s Role

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has to do more in terms of regulating quality of services from cellular operators. We haven’t heard of any QoS survey after 3G/4G spectrum auction, that they should do more regularly to keep an eye on performance of operators.

Its a prime responsibility of PTA to proactively safeguard the interest of consumers and this is why they should not wait for customers to register complaints with authority; instead, PTA should go and fix the problem in advance.

With growing number of 3G and 4G users, and now with emergence of data-only SIMs, PTA’s role in regulating quality has become more crucial as telecom services are now at the core of shaping up the economy of the country and PTA has a major part in it to play.

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

  • Pta should take strict action against telecom operators and cancel the 3g license of operators which provide slow speed 3g.

    • The lowest speed that is allowed by PTA is 256kbps so if you are having this low speed then don’t try to complain to PTA about your 3g speed because they won’t consider it unless its less than 256kbps. TBH this bullshit was standardized by PTA. Who the heck thought 256kbps should be considered 3g standard??? A minimum of 1mbps should have been set as lowest 3g standard in Pak as we were already late to implement 3g in Pak so PTA should have worked on it from the current scenario not the 10yo research. I am using mobilink 3g in Islamabad and its worst as i U/D speed never exceeds 2mbps when tested and that is browsing speed not the download speed.

            • @eyescreaman:disqus is right he telling you American tariff and south koera is very small country to compare so their price is cheap

              • South Korea is the most advanced country in Asia in terms of mobile and internet connectivity. And furthermore in USA you also get smartphone for 2 years for 40 a month.

          • Stop comparing the market of US with Pakistan. Your $40/1 GB is inaccurate and a blatant lie. Yes, there are such expensive operators, but there are cheap and good ones too in the US, offering cheap prices and better speeds on 3G as compared to Pakistan. People earning £6.70/hr in the UK (Rs. 1,072) and earning $7.25/HR in the US (Rs. 755/hr) can afford $40/1 GB which is inaccurate. In the UK, we can get 1000 minutes, 1000 texts, UNLIMITED 3G & 4G data for merely £18/month. (Rs. 2,880) Minutes and Texts valid for all networks. There are cheap and expensive operators everywhere in the world. The main thing that matters is QUALITY, which is in the UK and US, and not in Pakistan.

            • The point was you cannot have internet only mobile plans with nationwide coverage most of the time, yes these plans include unlimited call/texts but we all know these are all mute offerings since people can/are using data to replace calling/texts [hangouts/skype/viber, whatsapp/line etc] as its a better experience.
              These plans also include a whole host of other services but then at the end of the day these don’t matter as all we care about is data.

              Now, coming back to the comparison. Value of a service can only be measured by a comparison, Pakistan still has one of the lowest 3g rates in the world and it was just launched less than 2 years ago. Remember the days when a single text use to cost Rs.2 ? Look where are we now with 10k text/month for ~Rs.50.
              Same will happen with 3G, the operators need to recoup or even break even on the investment and ridiculous policies/taxes of this govt and soon you will see the 3G/4G tariffs decline.

  • Why the hell operator participated in auction when they knew spectrum size is not enough, PTA has issued the draft policy and distributed among all stake holders for approval before making official policy

  • Another issue is operator has not installed 3g equipment to every base station so definitely if demands goes higher than supply then we have service bottle neck issues

  • Very True. Mobilink is the worst company among all 3G service providers who is making fool public by showing wrong figure of 3G covered cities without mentioning name of cities (200+ cities as they claim) and without any coverage map. Even in Fsd, Lhr, Isd and karachi like cities have some main areas where mobilink still doesnt have 3G coverage.
    And telenor on other hand have expanded its 3G coverage to most of the cities but providing substandard 3G services as I never experience more than 1 to 2 Mbps speed on its network probabaly due to narrow spectrum. And telenor too claiming 200+ cities under 3G coverage but mention only 89 on its 3G coverage map on website.
    I shoudnt talk about Ufone as U all know about their quality.
    Only Zong is providing some better 3G services among all operators. But Lets see how much their 3G quality will effect after expansion of network.

  • yaar mene to kaha tha satisfy hun
    Wese Aamir Atta what was the reason of offering only two 5mhz and two 10mhz?
    second no news of apple hacking issue via jail broken iphone?
    phir 1 month baad post karo gay?

  • What a non-sense analysis, once again, based .03% sample size you have formed an opinion that people are facing problems. I personally know 3 of the mobile operators are working very hard to achieve customer satisfaction.

    Did you even checked avg bandwidth requirement of a Pakistani person before commenting on people are facing slow speed.

    Pls refrain from biased opinions, the country already has enough naive people voicing their opinions.

  • Aik kahawat sunata hun jo humare 3g users par fit beth ti hai
    Khusreyan de ghar munda jamya ona ne chumeyaan le le k maar dita
    Humara bhi yahi haal hai expectation aasmano par the k 3g se koi jin hazir kar lein ge

  • Having switched over to Zong as soon as 4g was launched…..i am now getting speeds in between the range of 13MBps – 52 MBps in Islamabad and 13-23 in Bahria Town. Zong is amazing. Dont know about 3g though!!!

      • Here is exact Downloading speed of Zong 4G in Peoples Colony Faisalabad. I am getting 3 to 4.36MB/s means 25 to 36 Mbps (1 Mbps get 120 kB/s and 1000 kB/s = 1MB/s) actual speed not testing speed as different testing servers shows different speed at the same time.

  • 5Mhz and 10Mhz has nothing to do with speed either, it increases number of serving customer per cell site.

      • What it means is that a 3G 5Mhz operator will need more cell sites(towers) in an area to serve X number of customers than a 3G 10MHz operator

        In simpler words, a 5Mhz will have a smaller coverage area than 10 Mhz
        A smaller circumference

    • Just Example.
      If 5 MHz tower can provide same speed up to 100 users connected at the same time without decreasing maximum speed.
      Then 10 MHz can provide 200 users same speed from that tower with out disturbing maximum speed.
      thats the difference.
      5MHz companies will surely get hurt in congested areas of big cities like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Pindi due to higher number of users connected from a single cell site.

  • I’m happy that propakistani discussed about limited bandwidth given to mobile operators which I have been saying in comment box for ages. Sadly propakistani just keeps on saying the bandwidth wasn’t available , and to sell all operators 3G license they allowed auction of 5mhz each.well what about other bands besides those in 1800mhz? What about 900,1900,2100,2300,2500 or 2600mhz?. Fact is government was intersted in loot so they didn’t bothered to clear rest of the spectrum for the auction. Furthermore if someone thinks govt lost much in exchequer should keep in mind govt got quite less in return for the auction what it hopped for.

  • The big problem is the inconsistent policies of Govt regarding taxation. Instead of encouraging the celco,s, they are discouraged . who will invest in Pakistan when industry lacks faith

    • You are not alone… In Jampur city, it is even more worse … Operators are discriminating among customers ( urban / rural ) while both pay same amount for service ? Why People getting 40 Mbps in on Zong 4G in LHR / ISB / KHI and you are getting 745.5 Kb/s !!! Do you pay less or customers from ISB / LHR / KHI pay more !!!! Until unless you make a formal complaint to PTA + Competition Commission Of Pakistan against operator, problem would be remain unsolve.

      Just send an email to both entities and see results. In CCP, you can make complaint against ZONG for False Marketing practice – They looted you by making false claims of 4G LTE. Your one complain would fucked Zong and other operators for their so called quality of service.

      Spectrum, technology, or other variable are not our headache. We pay equal money and need service, equal treatment. Simple Rule of Business.

  • I appreciate the article. I would agree that the worst 3G service is provided by the two largest operators, I.e, Telenor & Mobilink, irrespective of their frequency band! Complaints to PTA are of no use. It appears tHAt PTA has been entrusted with the authority to only mint money & close eyes @ the blatant violations of Telecom consumers’ rights by the operators by offering poor services & by the government through exorbitant taxes. I only got relief from poor 3G services by mnp of my Telenor no & stopping use of Mobilink 3G.

  • aur rahi sai kasar humare pakistani bhai muft main proxys laga ke free net chala ke nikal rahi hain lol

  • I am RF Engineer at ZTE, working on Zong 3G Project…. Recently i left Telenor and now i joined ZTE. the basic issue of being low throughput depends on many factors. spectrum allotment is one of them, but that does not mean that it will effect overall speed, i worked on all operators 3G, but the best and quality 3G network in my opinion is Zong, Telenor lost its grace, as they are saving money by installing mostly Tri Band antennas, which is not as that much powerful as Single Band or Dual band antenna. Also traffic is another reason, as every site have some specific bandwidth, this is long discussion. but kindly don’t blame any network by seeing only its spectrum issue.

    • Assalam.o.Alaikum Saif,as you are an engineer and have work experience on 3g projects,can you plz tell what are the possible solutions for telecom companies to improve their 3g speeds,plus no. of users aren’t going to decrease so high traffic will be a big issue for companies as well.

  • I am quiet happy with mobilink 3G. Off course not the ideal speed. But this much is fine for my needs. Weekly package is best as well. Check speed test.

    I get 15Mb on Zong 3G and 10MB on Telenor. On Warid I get around 3-4Mb and ufone only gives around 2Mb.

  • In this regard Telenor is best, or at least better than all, I guess on average 6-7 Mbps and at max more than 9 sometimes even touch 12mbps I live in Rawalpindi 6-7 and 7-9 I get in Rwp and more than 9 to 12 mbps i get in Abbottabad.

  • Please check the speed with external (overseas) servers. The internal results do not prove your internet speed correctly.

  • stop demanding services like in the “Other countries”. You beggars of IMF. “Interest” devourers. Enemies of Allah n Messenger (sas). Fix ur house. Drop the kufr n shirk first. in sha Allah you will be blessed.

  • The difference of 5MHz and 10MHz is evident. Dont buy devices with HSPA rating if you are using Zong and Mobilink connections, as the MSM6280 is 10 yrs old standard developed by Qualcomm.

    For Ufone and Telenor, it can be ok, but HSPA+ can produce better results.

    Buy HSPA+ dongles with atleast 21 / 42 Mbps rating. And always check which dongle you are buying when purchasing packages.

    Note:If there is no 3G coverage in your area, then don’t buy any of these :) It all depends upon no. of cell sites in your area. Cities are covered first and then rural areas.

    Remember: Operators are just generating revenues ….. selfish though !

  • Assalamo Allikum ! I saw and marked yuor this very post to read later. Reality and sincerity based article as usual. Thanks a lot for making voice echoed to concern on our behalf. Stay blessed @ Aamir Bhai and team !!!

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