Here’s Why Ufone is Growing Rapidly Even Without 4G

When Jazz and Warid consolidated in 2016, industry experts were ringing the warning bells for Ufone. The merger left Ufone as the only telco in Pakistan which did not have 4G spectrum.

As almost every telco made “4G speeds” the centerpiece of their marketing campaigns, Ufone should have lost steam as consumers flocked to other telcos towards the promised land of 4G speeds.

Come 2018, and that is not the case. Far from it, in fact. Ufone accounted for 55% of all the net-adds in October 2018. And 90% of those customers were data subscribers.

To find out exactly how Ufone managed this spectacular turn around, we talked to Adnan Anjum, Head of Marketing at Ufone.

How Ufone is Outpacing 4G Competition with 3G Speeds

Detailing what Ufone has been up to for the past 6 months and how it has managed to stay ahead of the stiff competition, he said, “We rolled out a significant portion of our network in the last 6 months. A few things happened because of that. One, we added more subscribers than anyone else and two, we saw phenomenal growth in data subscribers. Compared to the industry standard of 32%, we’ve grown 41% year-on-year in terms of data subscribers.”

The reason for this growth? Quality.

Adnan Anjum, Head of Marketing, Ufone

He elaborated, “It’s often said that consumers in Pakistan don’t care about quality but that hasn’t been our experience at all. We’ve been focusing on providing better service and that’s been the main driver of our growth. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter whether subscribers have 3G or 4G. If a consumer can connect to the internet and enjoy a seamless browsing experience, even 3G can be enough. If they can’t do that on even 4G, then what’s the point?”.

An important thing illustrated by Ufone’s case study is that for consumers in Pakistan, price is an incentive – but it’s not the only incentive. If customers are being provided with good quality, it’s not necessary to undercut the competition.

Compared to the industry standard of 32%, we’ve grown 41% year-on-year in terms of data subscribers: Adnan Anjum

So now we know that Ufone is growing both in terms of subscribers as well as revenues. But does it really have the spectrum to keep up the momentum? What’s the company’s plan for that little problem?

Adnan says, “Last year, we started U900 spectrum and because of that we’ve doubled our carrying capacity and increased penetration. But yes, if we want to grow at the same pace we did this year, we will need spectrum. Our understanding is that the government is going to formulate a comprehensive policy for spectrum. Whether that takes the form of another auction or top-ups remains to be seen.”

Ufone is Ahead But Where did Funny Ads Go?

While Ufone’s growth has flown slightly under the radar, far more visible is the change in its ads. The company used to be known for its humor-infused viral ad campaigns. So why did they shift strategy?

Turns out, it was a decision backed by data.

Adnan revealed that while the ads got huge impressions and were universally liked, consumers were identifying with the production rather than the brand. People didn’t necessarily associate Ufone with the ads and even if they did, they didn’t see it as a relevant telecom company in the context of the ads.

Research indicated that consumers might associate with the brand if ads showed real people and that’s exactly what Ufone did

. However, those series of ads failed to get significant traction.

Continuing along that line, Ufone decided to center all its ads around the idea that “whatever we do, we do it for the people” as the concept resonates with its brand and business philosophy “it’s all about U!” This golden formula has already begun reaping rewards for the company.

While Ufone might not have the funniest ads anymore, you can count on it for “clear voice and fast internet”. A good trade-off in our opinion.

Talal is a Director at ProPakistani. Reach out at [email protected]


  • Farrukh

    Looks like a paid content. 3G services should and are less than 4G in price. So laymen would be attracted due to low price.. But when you talk about quality of service, I’m sorry, I’m observing something else. Even in Ufone tower, people face issues while using 3G service.
    My own friends ported their sims to Jazz and now enjoying better 4G services and good call quality in Ufone Tower.

    • YARaza

      Warid ny last days mein dramatically customer increase kiy thy free sims aor free balance ke offer say
      Jo 10 sims sale krta tha un k liy gifts b hoty thy
      Ab Ufone ka end chal raha ha aor sale hoty waqt Number of Users and Average Revenue per user pehly dekhi jati ha

    • Uzair Farooqi

      Can’t agree more with you. Ufone’s 3G is patgepat

  • YARaza

    Jazz and Zong
    LTE-A and VoLTE pay kam kr rahy hein aor 2019 mein services in b ho jaein ge
    ,
    Etisalat say 800 Million ly k PTCL(including Ufone) private kr de jaein ge ,
    ,
    Agr China Mobile Purchase kry inko to ziada achi bat ho ge
    ,
    Puri world ab 5G pay kam kr rahi ha Ufone ka koi future nhi

  • Ahmed

    Well to translate for you all the “clever” marketing guy’s mumbo jumbo, they don’t want and have 4G since that area is covered by their parent company’s PTCL Charji and they don’t want to lose those revenues by competition within the group company. Secondly the added subscribers is a short lived hurrah till Ufone starts losing even the 3G market in those rural areas.

    • Shaharyar Zafar

      You should probably read the article again. He never said they don’t want 4G. He said people prefer quality over quantity and I think you would too.

    • timematcher

      First of all, Charji is NOT 4G at all – thus the pathetic speeds, instability & ping of Charji devices. Charji uses a UMTS spectrum originally used by Vwireless/Vfone. Furthermore, PTCL does not (and never had) a 4G license.

      • Netherdrake

        Someone should sue PTCL for using such a name as “Charji”, it is done to fool the people into thinking its actually 4G.

  • Shuja Siddiqui

    I dont know who use ufone data inspite of such high rates?

  • Daniyal Mahfooz

    Well this truly amazed me because if people have not forgotten Warid only survived due to its quality and consumer loyalty and failed to capture market despite of highest quality and finally get merged with Jazz and soon warid will be faded n only jazz will be left. Despite low quality zong managed to get more customers by offering cheap rates at cheap quality and surpassed ufone and warid in terms of subscriber base. The fact they increased subscriber for a month is only because of offering free sims door to door amd because every other person owns a smartphone n every new sim cones with free data and by default data activated there is no surprise if most of the new sims were used for data services.

    • Netherdrake

      Zong provides quality internet and services now though.

  • Saqi

    Ufone has been running a “ufone ki free sim plus 12gb internet” campaign for last two months. So this is just a spike in a chemical reaction. Funny growth. Ufone management knows the fact. Lol

    • YARaza

      Agree
      Very short time subscribers

  • Qudratol Wazir

    I can’t imagine how people stay on 3G. For contemporary smartphones, 3G is like gprs of the past.

  • sleepless

    Ufone is on its last legs…. another operator will soon get gobbled up by one of the big three. Its just a matter of time… wait and see.

  • Junaid

    Sponsored article…!

  • Mr. Gul

    In my opinion a paid article, my family & I have been using Ufone since a decade but now most of us have either shifted to Jazz/Warid or reduced Ufone. I see no body around me switching from other networks to Ufone with its slow 3G. Ufone Super Card offered 1GB data while Jazz offers 2 GBs with Rs.20 less. How’s Ufone winning, doesn’t make any sense.

  • Adnan

    I am living in Buch Executive Villas in Multan. Regretfully, the Ufone service is less than pethatic indoor here. I am an old user of Ufone and facing deadly problem of signals droppage. I many a times put up complaints as to install a tower in the colony or do some alternate arrangement, but Ufone turned a deaf ear.
    I would request Mr. ADNAN to visit this area and see how bad is the service of ufone here.

    • Adnan

      I have been shifted to Telenor instead

      • Adnan Anjum

        Dear Adnan, I have noted your compliant. Though we have recently upgraded our network in Multan but it is very much possible that we may have weak coverage in your area. I apologies for your inconvenience and would hope to get your business back soon.

  • umar5150

    Writer should visit Murree express way once and check for himself how pathetic is ufone 3g.i been to kohala , had to stay there for 2nights there was no 3g only Gprs and Edge. My companions were comfortable with telenor and jazz coverage but mine pathetic ufone was at worst.My statement can be verified by traveling in that area

  • Syed Ahsan Taqveem

    pro pakistani is becoming paid news site with passage of time….thinking to delete it from my site list……….

  • Ammad Farooq

    Ufone ptcl both are curse on Pakistan