Unprecedented Growth In Pakistan’s Telecom Sector In 2023
The annual report released by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) provides a comprehensive overview of the dynamic and thriving telecommunications sector in Pakistan. Over the past five years, the country has witnessed an extraordinary surge in telecom subscribers, with a staggering 25 percent increase, reaching an impressive 192.3 million.
The teledensity, which encompasses both mobile and fixed services, has exceeded 80.5 percent as of September 2023, showcasing an extraordinary growth rate of 13.6 percent during the same period. Cellular mobile services are now accessible to an impressive 90 percent of the population, while 3G and 4G signals extend to over 80 percent.
Read more: PTA claims record increase in Telecom revenue
The proliferation of cellular mobile cell sites has seen a significant boost, reaching 54,415 by June 2023, representing a remarkable 29 percent growth over the past five years.
In parallel with the explosive growth in mobile services, broadband subscribers have reached a remarkable 130.1 million by September 2023, reflecting an exceptional growth rate of 110 percent over the last five years. Broadband penetration, encompassing both mobile and fixed connections, has surged to 54.5 percent, up from 29 percent in 2018.
The expansion of telecom services, complemented by effective monetization strategies by operators, has resulted in record telecom revenues of Rs. 850 billion in the fiscal year 2022-23.
The mobile Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) per month has experienced a commendable increase, reaching Rs. 278 billion during July-September 2023. The telecom sector has made a formidable annual contribution of Rs. 340 billion to the national exchequer through PTA deposits, taxes, spectrum fees, and other revenue streams.
One of the most notable achievements emphasized in the report is the affordability of telecom rates in Pakistan. Proactive regulatory practices and a competitive broadband market have contributed to making telecom rates in Pakistan among the most affordable globally.
The cost of 1GB of data stands at an incredibly low US$ 0.12, positioning Pakistan as the sixth least expensive country in this regard. Despite challenges to industry profitability posed by declining prices, the decline has been substantial, decreasing by 71 percent from Rs. 114.3 in FY 2017-18 to Rs. 32.8 per GB during FY 2022-23.
Recognizing the pivotal role of the fiber footprint in Pakistan’s telecommunications and internet infrastructure, the government and PTA have actively promoted the deployment of Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) networks. Their efforts include addressing Right of Way (RoW) challenges and implementing rollout obligations of 1,500 kilometers of OFC for new Long Distance and International (LDI) licensing. This initiative aims to meet the growing demand for high-speed internet and digital services, presenting lucrative investment opportunities. The commitment to advancing the telecom infrastructure underscores the government’s and PTA’s proactive approach to fostering technological progress and enhancing connectivity across the nation.