THE INVINCIBLE CELLULAR REVOLUTION

Aug 29 - Sep 04, 2005

The telecommunication arena has undergone rapid metamorphosis with the advent of avant-garde technological advancement. Keeping abreast of emerging trends, Pakistan's telecom scene has witnessed a revolution as well that was furthered with the deregulation policy of the government applied at the telecommunication sector. New horizons opened up for the multinationals and foreign investors, and the private sector which was on strong grounds attracted many key regional and global players.

PAST DECADE:

A brief review of the mobile industry in the past decade illumines that the cellular service in Pakistan has come a long way. It was first introduced in 1990 by Paktel, a joint venture between Hassan Associates of Pakistan and Cable and Wireless of U.K. It was followed by Instaphone in 1991 which was launched by Arfeen International in collaboration with Millicom of Sweden. In 1994 Motorola and Saif Communications joined hands to introduce Mobilink with the GSM technology. It was the single entity at that time enjoying the service of GSM it provided until 2001 when Ufone, a subsidiary of Pakistan telecommunication Company (PTCL) launched its service on GSM 900 platform.

PTCL FIGURES

The latest figures compiled by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority suggest cellular phone connections are growing by a staggering pace of 120 per cent annually. If the same pace of growth is maintained, the number of subscribers that are expanding by 9.58% a month will double in one year's time. The mobile tele-density has crossed 5.14 per cent and according to conservative estimates the number of mobile phone users would be approximately 15 million by December 2005.

OVERVIEW OF OPERATORS:

In the past three years the pace of the progress became much faster as the government opened its doors by issuing licences and two new companies.

Telenor and the upcoming Warid Telecom entered the scene. It was the conducive atmosphere in terms of fiscal and structural incentives and a regulatory environment that compelled these two new companies to venture into Pakistan's complex market. This led to the growth of healthy competition that fostered as Telenor alone attracted 6,53,170 customers in two months. This competition has led to the realization that mere hindrances and vague campaigns are not the recipe to success. The one who would provide consumer satisfaction and trustworthy services would reap the bounties of the cellular sector. This in order to grab the top notch cellular companies have significantly reduced their tariffs and expanded their infrastructure to compete with the newly inducted parties. The government also reduced activation charges from Rs 2000 to 1000 to facilitate the intending customers and boost the growth of cell phone connections. The companies had withdrawn roaming charges throughout the country. Due to these measures an increase of 173 per cent was seen in the mobile sector and the total number of mobile phone users reached 7.9 million by the end of 2004. Existing mobile companies provided more than 5.5 million new connections during the year.

OVERVIEW OF MANUFACTURERS:

If we compare our growth with our immediate neighbour, the number of telephone lines in Pakistan is growing faster than in India which is the world's fifth largest telecom market where a total of hundred million people use both cellular and fixed line phones. The tele-density in India suggests that the country has one phone user per 120 habitants while in Pakistan every 10th person is either a user of the cell phone or fixed line. Hence the mobile phone market is enormously expanding and the number of cell phone subscribers in the country has crossed the ten million mark for the first time ever outnumbering those using the 50 years old fixed telephony service by hundred per cent in just ten years. According to market sources, approximately 0.7 million mobile phone sets are being imported and marketed and this figure is expected to reach the one million mark with the new cell phone operators in the country. Spearheading the mobile phone distribution is Mobile Zone, the largest mobile phone company in Pakistan. It is the only authorized distributor of 4 leading international brands, namely: Nokia, Sonyericson, Samsung & BenQ.

With this prestigious and high standard portfolio of international brands MZ stands at 60% market share in cellular phone market.

Over the time Nokia has held strongly to its post. Sonyericson has shown the most phenomenal growth in Pakistan market and has come up very aggressively.

Samsung continues to launch its stylish and innovative mobile phones. BenQ has shown significant market penetration in low-end segment thereby eating market share of Bird, Viva, Sendo & Daewoo.

Mobile Zone has been recently rated as the 'Best Growing Distributor of Nokia' for the year 2004 in MENA region. Its products by combination have 60% share in cellular phone market of the country. With head office in Karachi, Mobile Zone has sales and service centres in Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Afghanistan, Quetta and now in Gujranwala and Rawalpindi. MZ has nationwide more than 35 company-owned outlets.

REFURBISHED MOBILE PHONES

As the market is inundated with mobile sets, the problem of refurbished sets sold at the rate of new ones glares in the face. Complaints of these substandard, faulty phones being sold are on the rise and the consumers have no place to go for help or assistance. This is not only making the customers lose trust but the manufacturers might also lose interest due to lack of protection of their brands' integrity. Though these problems are just hiccups in the way of mobile boom, they need to be dealt properly and with immediate effect.

PHENOMENAL PROGRESS

All in all, Pakistan has made phenomenural progress in the last three years in the telecom sector and the liberalization policy that the government has employed has sufficient capacity for all to expand and develop. This had, in turn, highly benefited the economy as well. The latest figures show that the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in telecom sector reached US $207.1 million last year and is expected to reach between US $5 to 8 billion in the next three to five years. Furthermore, the two new licences awarded by the telecom regulator PTA to cellular phone operators through open and transparent bidding generated revenue that reached approximately US $ 582 million. The revenue can increase manifold if the government takes further initiative and set up a mobile phone industry. This would enable Nokia, Sonyericson, Samsung and other companies to set up their plants in Pakistan, create job opportunities and give a vital boost to the economy. The Progress continues - - - - - - - - - -

* Mobile Zone:
* Achievement & Awards
* Introduced first camera phone in Pakistan Market - Nokia 7610
* Introduced 1st Mega pixel camera Phone in the Market - S700i
* The only authorized distributor of leading brands Nokia, Sonyericson , Samsung & BenQ.
* Winner of performance award of Mobilink.
* Winner of Fastest Growing Partner for Nokia in 2004
* Launched the Mobile Phone TVC concept in Pakistan.
* Wide spread business operations in Afghanistan.
* Strategic alliances with Mobilink, Telenor, & Paktel.
* Strategic alliances with HBL, Standard Chartered Bank, Union Bank, Pak Libya & Bank Alfalah.
* Strategic alliance with Roshan telecom operator in Afghanistan.
* Launched M-Track: Tracks your stolen mobile phone via IMEI number.