GSMA anticipates sound 3G, 4G growth in Pakistan till 2020

GSMA anticipates sound 3G, 4G growth in Pakistan till 2020

ISLAMABAD, Jan 29 (APP): Around 90 per cent of Pakistani
population would have access to 3G networks while 80 per cent
of them are estimated to enjoy 4G services by year 2020.
Amid heavy investments, 3G coverage in Pakistan – from all
operators combined – reached 65 per cent of population by
2015 while it stretched to around 75 % of population by
mid-2016, the facts revealed in Global System Mobile Association
(GSMA) report.
A web-based portal, ProPakistani, quoting the report said
key findings of report are 3G coverage reached 75 per cent of
Pakistani population by mid-2016, 4G coverage reached 18 per cent of
Pakistani population by mid-2016 and 29 per cent of Pakistani
population use mobile Internet (2G, 3G or 4G).
The report said mobile broadband uptake has been slow, mainly
due to fact that many citizens either cannot afford or do not know
how to use devices and services that deliver mobile broadband.
With time, mobile broadband (3G and 4G) users in Pakistan are
estimated to grow to 60 million by 2020.
With continued investment – it is estimated that investments
for 3G network expansion will reach $ 2.8 billion over next four
years (not including any additional spectrum costs) – and it will
enable around 90 per cent of the population with 3G access, said the
With only two operators, 4G roll-out has expanded rather
slowly and reached 18 per cent of the population by mid-2016.
However, with Mobilink acquiring Warid and Telenor beginning 4G
services, 4G coverage is expected to rapidly increase to 80 per cent
of the population by 2020.
The report said today’s users will accelerate their
transition to mobile broadband from 2G services, with improved
network coverage and more affordable smartphones with time.
By 2020, mobile broadband will be accessed by about a third of
the population, albeit predominantly those migrating from 2G.
Given the lack of fixed line broadband connectivity in
Pakistan, the digital divide – between those that have access to the
internet and those that do not – will remain substantial.
Pakistan is an emerging digital society. Digitization is still
in its early stages, and is used mainly as a tool for accelerating
socio-economic development, particularly in improving digital and
financial inclusion.
However, through its Vision 2025 strategy, Pakistan aims to
complete its transition to a knowledge-based economy, creating a
globally competitive and prosperous country that provides a high
quality of life for all its citizens.
Vision 2025 aspires to a more advanced digital society. Digital
development can drive increased engagement between individuals and
institutions, provide huge growth potential and productivity gains
in all sectors, and enable more advanced and innovative government
Pakistan’s mobile sector is in a unique position to support the
country’s digital development for three key reasons:
Mobile can connect more people than any other technology,
particularly in underserved rural areas, mobile can provide secure
access to a variety of digital services such as health and education
and mobile can provide a platform to provide financial inclusion,
engaging many people in the economy for the first time.
In parallel, innovative services that run over mobile networks
can support many of the government’s Vision 2025 objectives, such as
increasing enrolment in education, improving food security and
driving private sector growth.
Mobile operators in Pakistan are playing their part in
innovating to deliver the services that will accelerate progress
towards the goals of Vision 2025 – and in doing so generating
growth, jobs and investment in wider economy. But they have an
opportunity to do more.
Three key areas require immediate attention: a competition
policy that considers all market players, not just telecoms service
providers, in a technology-neutral environment aimed at preventing
bottlenecks and exclusionary conduct; clear and simplified licensing
practices based on function rather than technology or legacy
industry structures, which can accommodate the rapidly changing
market and encourage investment and innovation; and a new framework
for physical network cooperation (including network and spectrum
sharing) that is light-touch and focuses on general competition
principles and transparency.
There is a real opportunity for the government, institutions,
mobile operators and the wider mobile industry to work together to
make the regulations a better fit for modern digital ecosystem, the
report maintained.