Telecoms rising

Good news for Pakistan in the telecommunications sector where access to services is nearing historic landmarks.


Editorial August 17, 2010

There is some good news for Pakistan, at least in the telecommunications sector where access to services is nearing historic landmarks. The number of cell phone subscribers in Pakistan has exceeded 99 million, as of June 2010. That number is expected to cross the psychological 100 million mark within the next few months. In the past two years, growth had slowed in the mobile telecommunications sector as the companies sought to consolidate and compete in existing markets rather than open up new ones. While this was to be expected, it appears that the cellular operators have finally begun to provide their services to parts of the country that were hitherto unconnected. Similarly, and in some ways more importantly, the number of broadband internet subscribers has exceeded 900,000 users and is rapidly expected to cross the one million mark in the next few weeks.

Broadband use has seen an astonishing 118 per cent growth over the past fiscal year, a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. But before congratulating the service providers, it should be pointed out that PTCL, the largest provider of broadband internet, may be guilty of inaccurate advertising. The speeds available to its subscribers and would-be customers is all too often not what is promised in the advertisements. This complaint has been aired of late by a substantial proportion of users and the industry regulator, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, needs to take note of this and ask the provider to explain the discrepancy. Custom service issues remain for mobile phone customers as well. This may well be a consequence of the fact that the country ranks among the top in the world in mobile phone use. Clearly, this growth has come at the expense of service, and that's something the providers need to pay attention to.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2010.

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