KARACHI: Competition among mobile internet service providers has intensified as the last player in the race has started providing 4G services in major cities of Pakistan.
Ufone has entered into competition after introducing an advanced version of mobile internet – 4G – in major cities of Pakistan.
“We have launched 4G/LTE services in major cities across the country. The cities covered include Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta while Karachi is on the cards,” Ufone spokesperson Amir Pasha told The Express Tribune.
Latest data of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) revealed that Ufone had 8 million 3G subscribers and 365,185 4G subscribers in February 2019 when the company started rolling out 4G services. The company has, however, not made any official announcement about the launch.
“It was critical for Ufone to introduce 4G, otherwise it would have died as a brand because every other cellular company offers this technology,” said an industry source on condition of anonymity.
“Once a consumer tries 4G, obviously he will not prefer 3G and due to this, the company is losing customers,” he said.
“Ufone was lagging behind and during such a phase, a company focuses on survival instead of innovation,” the source said while justifying the delay. “As the last operator with the least number of customers, Ufone has entered into a survival phase.” Ufone had 8.5 million subscribers in February 2019, according to the PTA data and it was well behind Zong, with 19.7 million subscribers, Jazz, with 21.8 million subscribers and Telenor, with 14.4 million subscribers.
“Ufone has still not taken an aggressive decision, instead it has taken permission to run 4G on its current spectrum,” he said. On the other hand, the Ufone spokesperson said, “Ufone has technology neutral licences for cellular mobile services. It has gone through the requisite procedural requirements for 4G/LTE launch, for which regulatory permission has been acquired.”
Information and communications technology (ICT) expert Parvez Iftikhar was of the view that the company was squeezing 2G and 3G for advance technology.
“4G is a data-intensive technology, which takes more space and following introduction of faster internet, the company will definitely attract customers and consequently it will face congestion problem in the long run if not in the short term,” remarked the industry source.
“Ufone is two to three years late already and it is using same frequencies for the latest technology.”
Zong bought a 4G licence in 2014, Jazz in 2016 and Telenor in 2017. The latter two were late as they were waiting for 4G-supporting smartphones.
“Ufone as a priority has been providing 3G connectivity across the country even in the remotest areas of Balochistan,” stated the spokesperson. “This has been our focus – making 3G available without discrimination all over the country.
We believe that this is now the right time to launch 4G/LTE, in terms of market potential (how market reacts to the service) and more importantly the high 4G/LTE handset penetration in the market.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2019.