KARACHI: On the back of strong public interest in the arrival of third-generation (3G) services, Telenor Pakistan announced its plans to expand its 3G network to 32 cities by the end of 2014.
“We have witnessed a strong surge in the uptake of services. Majority of our customers – who used free or test service – have been opting for the paid service,” said Telenor Pakistan Chief Marketing Officer Irfan Wahab Khan in the company’s first post-3G media roundtable here on Monday.
Though 3G mobile users are just a small fraction of the company’s 8-million internet user base, the average data volume usage of its 3G customers is more than double compared with the average data volume of its 2G users. Applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Line and online classified services have mainly spurred this growth.
“Users of 3G services are consuming high amounts of data because of better user experience and internet speed,” said Khan, adding that the Pakistani subsidiary of the Norwegian telecom giant is the country’s fastest growing mobile broadband network.
Referring to the company’s strategy, Khan said the company did not want to confine only to urban centres but expand to rural areas as well.
In its fourth phase of commercial rollout, Telenor – the country’s second largest telecom operator by subscriber base – will add 13 more cities to its 3G network, according to officials. These cities include Attock, Bahawalpur, Bannu, DI Khan, Jhelum, Kohat, Mardan, Muzaffargarh, Okara, Pakpatan, Sahiwal, Wah and Taxila.
Sharing statistics about the Telenor App Store, which they launched in July 2014, Khan said a 55% month-on-month increase in traffic has been witnessed. “There are 137,000 unique users who have downloaded more than 50,000 apps.”
Telenor App Store is providing access to global content, such as Gameloft, EA games, Disney and features 90% free-to-download games, officials say. The store is powered with mobile payments company Fortumo’s direct career billing feature, Khan added, which allows its customers to make purchases with their mobile phone balance.
“Our app store is an opportunity for local developers,” he said, noting most of the apps were developed for international audience. “There are many local developers who are developing high-quality apps for international market. They can translate this into the local market as well.”
Khan also announced the launch of the company’s upcoming entertainment app, which will provide Pakistani, Indian and international music – the app is currently in a testing phase.
While being optimistic about the industry’s growth prospects, he used the platform to put forward challenges facing the telecom sector.
Pakistan’s telecom sector is the third highest-taxed industry, Khan said, adding the government should make the services more affordable by reducing the rate. He also insisted the government should come up with a telecom policy that can address challenges and has a technology neutral regime.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2014.