The telecommunications landscape in Pakistan has experienced an unprecedented surge, as unveiled in the recent annual report by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
In the last five years alone, the number of telecom subscribers in the country has skyrocketed by an impressive 25 percent, hitting an astonishing 192.3 million.
The teledensity, encompassing both mobile and fixed services, has surpassed 80.5 percent by the end of September 2023, showcasing an incredible growth of 13.6 percent during the same period. Notably, cellular mobile services are now accessible to a remarkable 90 percent of Pakistan’s population, while 3G and 4G signals extend to over 80 percent.
The cellular mobile cell sites have seen a significant boost, reaching 54,415 by June 2023, signifying a remarkable 29 percent growth over the past five years.
In tandem with the explosive growth in mobile services, broadband subscribers have reached an astonishing 130.1 million by September 2023, reflecting an exceptional growth rate of 110 percent over the last five years. The broadband penetration, including both mobile and fixed connections, has surged to 54.5 percent, up from 29 percent in 2018.
The expansion of telecom services, coupled with effective monetization strategies by operators, has resulted in record telecom revenues of Rs. 850 billion in the fiscal year 2022-23.
The mobile Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) per month has also witnessed a commendable elevation to Rs. 278 billion during July-September 2023. The telecom sector has made a formidable annual contribution of Rs. 340 billion to the national exchequer through PTA deposits, taxes, spectrum fees, and other revenue streams.
One of the most noteworthy achievements highlighted in the report is the affordability of telecom rates in Pakistan. Due to proactive regulatory practices and a competitive broadband market, subscribers in Pakistan enjoy some of the most affordable telecom rates globally.
The cost of 1GB of data stands at an astonishingly low US$ 0.12, positioning Pakistan as the sixth least expensive country in this regard. Despite the challenges posed to industry profitability by declining prices, the decline has been substantial, decreasing by 71 percent from Rs. 114.3 in FY 2017-18 to Rs. 32.8 per GB during FY 2022-23.
Recognizing the critical role of the fiber footprint in Pakistan’s telecommunications and internet infrastructure, the government and PTA have actively promoted the deployment of Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) networks.
Their efforts include addressing Right of Way (RoW) challenges and implementing rollout obligations of 1,500 kilometers of OFC for new Long Distance and International (LDI) licensing. This initiative aims to meet the growing demand for high-speed internet and digital services, presenting lucrative investment opportunities.