Mar 03 - 09, 2008

LAHORE: China Mobile, which is the world's largest cellular company having 370 million customers, managing more than 200,000 cell sites and handling over 6 billion calls every day, has planned to provide seamless connectivity all over Pakistan.

The race for foreign investment has left the banking sector far behind the telecommunication sector, which emerged as centre of activities for foreign investment.

The major shift in the trend was due to massive growth in the telecommunication sector, which is still open to offer more to the investors; analysts told Pakistan and Gulf Economists.

China Mobile has already pumped millions of dollars into Pakistanís telecom sector after taking over the Paktel operations in the country. "We have come to Pakistan with serious business plans to ensure that Paktel emerges as one of the leading telecom operators in the country within the next couple of years," a spokesman of China Mobile Pakistan said.

According to him, his company believed in a healthy competition and quality of service being offered to the subscribers. China Mobile considers Pakistan a valuable partner and the company would work towards strengthening this relationship further in the coming days.

After the acquisition of Union Bank, PICIC and Prime Bank, the analysts told PAGE that activities in the financial sector have slowed down while the telecommunications has recently received some good news from China and Gulf countries. After China Mobile, which acquired majority stakes in Paktel, more companies have approached to buy stakes in the companies doing booming business in Pakistan, they said. The country's mobile phone demand is rapidly growing and the government estimates that it will continue to grow at the pace of 1.5 million phones per month, they added.

President Pervez Musharraf, who met a delegation of China Mobile on February 21, also appreciated the plans of the Company to provide seamless connectivity all over the country. In the meeting, the delegation of the cellular service provider told President Musharraf that the company would require 10,000 cell sites to achieve this feat. China Mobile is committed to delivering on this promise, the delegation said. The delegation also briefed President Musharraf on the company's investment plans in Pakistan.

China Mobile Ltd., the world's largest mobile-phone operator, has bought 100 per cent shares of Paktel Ltd. for $460 million and renamed it as CMPak Limited, a spokesman of the company said. China Mobile Communications Corporation (CMCC) purchased all of CMPak's minority shareholding from its local shareholders M/s Millitel Limited and Mrs Bilqis Qureshi. The company aims to expand its network in the country. So far the company has awarded contract to four different vendors for network expansion, he said.

He said China Mobile is here to stay and the company would restart sales to resume business as usual as soon as it arrives in Pakistan.

According to statistics available to PAGE, the foreign investment in telecom sector during the current fiscal year has increased. Analysts said this was a vital shift in the investment trend. The telecom sector could attract more money than the banking sector. Banks have succeeded to keep their profits level high for last four years, which brought stability in the sector and created attraction for the foreign investors. Gulf countries have shown more interest in telecommunication sector.