The subscriber base would touch 30 million level within next five years

May 16 - 22, 2005

Alwarid last Friday became the sixth cell phone company in Pakistan paving way for further cell phone population which has already surpassed the fixed line telephony and crossed the 10-million mark this month.

While mushroom growth of cell phone is very much likely to maintain the growth pace the every burgeoning operation difficulties dampen the quality service for the their clientele.

One of the encouraging move came last month when the regulators took serious notice of poor performance by the cell phone operators.

Telecommunication Authority has warned the state-owned cellular company that it could impose huge fine and terminate its license on poor quality of service.

In a stern warning, the telecom watchdog issued a show cause notice to Ufone, when its parent company Pakistan Telecommunication Company announced 9.2 percent jump in its nine-month profit on the back of network expansion and high call traffic.

"The proceedings may lead towards the appointment of an Administrator or levy of fine up to Rs350 million, and also suspension or termination of license under section 23 of Pakistan Telecom (Re-organization) Act 1996," said a PTA statement.

The PTA warning to Ufone was second in a month as the regulators have already warned Mobilink of slapping a Rs350 million fine on it and terminate its licence if the company does not respond to a show-cause notice issued earlier this month within 30 days.

"The PTA has issued show cause notice to initiate proceedings against M/s Ufone, based on the results of the Quality of Service (QoS) survey conducted recently by the Authority. PTA has given 30 days to the operator to submit the reply," said the PTA statement.

The statement said the QoS surveys were conducted by the PTA to ensure the interests of the users of telecom services were duly safeguarded and protected and the licensee was providing the telecom services while meeting the minimum standards for quality and grade of service. "The Authority from time to time, issued severe warning letters explaining poor QoS and the licensee was directed to improve the same as per license conditions, however, no improvement made therein," it added.

"As a result, show cause notice has been served to initiate the proceeding against the licensee as per rules."

The PTA conducted a QoS survey, fourth in series, jointly with the representatives of GSM mobile phone operators including Mobilink, Ufone and Paktel.

The survey was conducted in all the major cities including motorway and highways across the country from February 7 to 27, 2005 with the representatives of the licensees.

The PTA said as per the surveys conducted by the authority the tabulated results had shown that the quality of service was far below the minimum standards given in the license.

"So in order to ensure that the interests of the consumers are duly safeguarded and protected and that the licensee is providing the poor quality of telecom services to the users, show cause notice has been served to the Ufone," said the statement.


Cell phone subscriber base has now crossed 10 million mark this month at the 10 percent monthly growth, which is almost 100 percent higher than the fixed line telephony.

Mobilink account for 6.01 million subscriber out of 10 million total subscribers whereas Ufone follows with 2.14 million customers across the country while others have lesser than million subscribers. Instaphone possessed 543,681 customers with larger coverage in the country and Paktel which offered both GSM and AMPS service enjoyed 448,342 and 323,572 respectively customers in each technology. With the arrival of Telenor and Alwarid the competition would further intensify at much faster pace than previous days.

The growth trend makes the cellular service providers in the country to forecast that the subscriber base would touch 30 million level within next five years.

But on the other hand increased competition has pushed the business managers of the existing operators to 'think and think again' while finalising strategies before the arrival of another company.

Tariff was not the only factor and the service experience as well as the portfolio of services would play a more important