LAHORE - The trend towards rising need of communication coupled with constant growing middle class income level have up-scaled teledensity ratio in the country, reaching 72 per cent to 120 million mark, which was also triggered by the planned 3G auction further to the global average, while broadband users have reached 2.2 million, reporting a surge of 37 per cent, industry experts said. However, the recent government policies to curb illegal and unregistered SIMs can dilute the telecom growth momentum, they observed.

Latest statistics reveals that competing in a five mobile operators’ environment, mobile subscribers cross 120 million mark in Sept 2012, up 9.2 per cent annually and 0.6 per cent on monthly basis. The Mobilink continues to be the market leader with stable 30 per cent market share. Overall its subscribers based increase to 36 million, up 8 per cent from September last year. It is followed by Telenor and Ufone with 25 per cent (up 30bps) and 20 per cent (up 100bps) market share, while their subscriber stood at 30 million (up 10 per cent) and 24 million (up 15 per cent), respectively.

However, the major gainer was China Mobile (Zong) that expanded its market share to 15 per cent in Sept 2012 as against 11 per cent in the same period of last year. Its subscriber based jumped by 41 per cent to 18 million users in Sept 2012 as against 13 million users of corresponding period of 2011. It stood out to be the chief beneficiary of the losing customer base from Warid, experts said. The Warid telecom’s market share dipped from 15 per cent in Sept 2011 to 11 per cent in Sept 2012, while this is the only cellular company which has lost its subscriber base in the given period. Its customer base has declined by 23 per cent to 12.6 million.

In broadband, EvDO is leading the way by attracting 268,000 new users and reached 638,000 customer base as of Aug 2012, showing a growth of 72 per cent YoY and 5 per cent MoM. Although with lesser rate, DSL (Digital subscriber line) services have spread to 896,00 users with the growth of 24 per cent YoY and 0.9 per cent MoM. Overall broadband users have reached 2.2 million in Aug 2012, up 37 per cent as compared to 1.6 million in Aug 2011 and up 1.9 per cent as compared to 2.1 million in July 2012.

These growth numbers as depicted by indicators bodes well for PTCL. Experts see positive profit variance in PTCL bottom-line in the absence of any major VSS expense and incremental impact of ICH development. Meanwhile, the PTA has issued a notice with subject line ‘Suspension of Interconnection Circuits’. The development has formally allowed LDIs to operate their international circuits for incoming calls. To recall, Brain Telecommunication has objected in Lahore High Court that the specific instructions in the above mentioned notification bar other operators (Except PTCL) to cater incoming international calls. Zeeshan Afzal, a telecom industry expert, sees no major change after the withdrawal of this notification.