Booming telecom:digital era overwhelms old mode of communication

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By Aleena Ilyas

ISLAMABAD, May 14 (APP): Landline phone, an old friend had proved to be the most effective and standard method of communication between people for decades around the world.

People and companies adopted this technology to communicate and interact with each other on a daily basis providing them a much faster and correct form of communication than the mail or the telegraph.

Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation (PTC) enjoyed a monopoly in landline domain and remained the only player in the market.

Unfortunately, getting landline connection in the past was not an easy task and applicants had to wait for years. The usage of landline phone has been decreasing for the last many years and reached 2.45 million in 2016-17 amid very low tele-density.

With passage of time, digital era began as hardware, software and the Internet took over and was seemed to be driving future of communication.

Mobile phones have become constant companions for most people in the world and landline phones are rapidly losing relevance.

About 18 years back, majority of households in Pakistan used to have an operational landline phone – now it is just every second household as mobile penetration (number of mobiles per person) has witnessed a reasonable increase over last ten years, reaching more than a 72 per cent in Pakistan.

Individual consumers as well as businesses have turned to this new method of communication as a way to adapt to globalized world, in which waiting until reaching home or the office to deliver a message is no longer an option.

Moreover, mobile phone service providers have been converting their users to wireless over last few years so they might not be concerned about the drop-off in landlines, but the landscape is undoubtedly changing. For instance, phone companies are starting to face competition, creating value and lure in customers with their Internet-based communication offerings.

Even as landline subscribers decline, the transitioning phone companies still have to invest millions of dollars a year to maintain old networks while the newest competitors who only provide the latest technologies (e.g. VoIP) can focus on providing just what the consumer wants.

“Evolution on telecommunication offering is important because consumer behavior is changing very quickly. Some years ago people used to call their friends and family, today they use online chats and video conference apps like Face time,Skype and many more to reach their loved ones,” Khurram Shehzad, a senior Manager at a mobile phone company told APP.

He said, “this trend is also making phone companies’ unlimited minutes offers irrelevant because what really matters today is data.”

Even for business purposes, landlines no longer represent the best way to get in touch with somebody given the increasing amount of mobility that jobs require

(work from home, travel, etc). That was why a growing number of start-ups were skipping the landline altogether, and why a growing number of bigger businesses were going mobile-only, Khurram maintained.

Mobile phone had become a need of everyone to stay connected, said a mobile phone user Salman Agha.

“And if we talk about smartphone it could be a source of income, information and awareness as well,”he added.

Smartpones were overpowering previously used landline phones in the country because of their innovative features and were expected to grow further in days to come.

Pakistan has seen a reasonable surge in mobile broadband penetration over the past five years with market penetration increasing from below 1 per cent in 2012 to 24 per cent in 2017.

Statistics issued by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) have showed that number of mobile phone users reached 149 million by March 2018 and broadband subscriber reached 56 million.

Since launch of 3G services, the five cellular mobile operators (CMOs) in the country added millions of broadband subscribers, which jumped from 3.8 million on June 30, 2014 to 56 million at end of March 2018.

Jazz’s total count for 3G users stood at 14.98 million by March 2018 while Jazz 4G user numbers stood to 3.15 million by March 2018.

Zong 3G subscribers reached 9.18 million by March 2018 while number of 4G users reached 6.37 by March 2018. The number of 3G users of Telenor reached at 10.92 by March 2018 while number of 4G users reached 2.45 million by March 2018 and Ufone 3G users stood at 6.16 million.