Mobile phone connections surge to 119.86 million
By Muhammad Yasir
KARACHI: The rising trend of utility of mobile phone services in metros coupled with constant increase of subscribers in rural areas have widened the subscribers base of cellular sector to 119.860 million with addition of 10.966 connections in 11 months of 2011-12.
According to the statistics of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the number of new connections increased on monthly average of 0.99 million in July to May 2012 period.
The overall teledensity of cellular phone users reached 68.60 percent by the end of third quarter of 2011-12. It means that every 68 persons out of 100 have mobile phone connections in Pakistan.
The officials of the cellular phone companies said the subscribers’ growth was witnessed in urban and rural areas in different age groups and income classes.
They said that the sale of cellular phone connections is on the rise in the metros despite the fact that big cities are considered as saturated with users having multiple SIMs of different operators.
However, they added, the growth has been recorded throughout the last financial year as a big segment of school-going children are purchasing mobile phone SIMs for communication and entertainment purposes.
In urban areas, customers at large are carrying multiple SIMs of different networks at the same time for availing on-net calls and SMS bundles offered by different mobile companies. The handsets having dual or multiple SIMs functions have given impetus to the trend of using multiple services of different operators by the users.
On the other hand, the growing cellular phone network of different operators including their technical infrastructure and sales channels have boosted the adoption of cellular phone services in small cities and villages.
The competition among the cellular phones is intensifying while introducing new services and free airtime to customers in the past nine months, which have increased the usage of services against low cost.
Mobilink is leading the market with 36.04 million subscribers. It is followed by Telenor and Ufone with 29.89 million and 23.50 million, respectively. Zong and Warid stood at 16.56 million and 13.7 million subscribers’ base, respectively.
Officials of the cellular phone companies feared of blocking millions of SIMs if the new regulation will be implemented on overall subscribers’ base as there are scores of individuals having many SIMs registered on their Computerised National Identity Cards.
Recently, PTA has set the limit over the purchase of subscription by one individual from 50 SIMs to five SIMs in its amended Subscribers Antecedents Verification Regulations.
According to the new rule, an individual can get subscription of five SIMs – prepaid or postpaid—on one CNIC from different cellular phone companies or one company. Previously an individual could purchase 10 SIMs of one subscriber, that is, 50 for five different cellular phone companies in total.