KARACHI: The number of broadband subscriptions in the country surpassed 25 million for the first time as cellular service providers sold more than one-and-a-half million high-speed mobile internet connections in December 2015, according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
The number of mobile broadband connections in the country increased to 26.3 million at the end of December, 2015 – the latest month for which data is publicly available – up 6% compared to 24.8 million the previous month, the PTA’s data showed.
Technologies, such as DSL, EvDo, WiMax and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) remained stagnant in the month under review as the entire growth was driven by users joining the third-generation (3G) and 4G networks.
The number of 3G and 4G users reached 23.2 million in the month under review, constituting 88% of the country’s total broadband subscriber base, the data shows. This was an increase of 7% compared to 21.6 million of the preceding month.
Mobile internet users now account for one-fifths, 21% to be exact, of the country’s total cellular base.
Moreover, broadband penetration or Internet density – the number of Internet connections divided by the country’s population size (200 million) – entered the 13% range for the first time at the end of December. However, the total number of internet users may be much higher given multiple users access internet through mobile WiFi devices sold by service providers.
The cellular mobile operators’ (CMOs) overall user base (voice and data users combined) increased by 1.6 million or 1.3% to finish at 125.8 million subscribers at the end of December.
Mobilink ended at the top with 36.2 million subscriptions at the end of the review period followed by Telenor Pakistan, which finished second with almost 35 million users in the same period.
China Mobile Pakistan (Zong), Ufone and Warid were third, fourth and fifth with 24 million, 19.7 million and 10.6 million users, respectively.
Also leading the mobile broadband category, Mobilink boasted over 7.2 million 3G users at the end of December followed by Telenor that had 6.4 million 3G users.
Zong remained third in the mobile broadband category increasing its 3G users to 4.7 million and its 4G subscriptions passed 280,000 users. Ufone’s 3G user base improved to 4.3 million while Warid surpassed 200,000 users on its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network at the end of December.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2016.