PTA’s telecom review
Islamabad (April 15, 2012) – Pakistan Telecommunications Authority yesterday released its latest Telecom Review, which highlighted positive growth in telecom indicators despite abysmal state of the economy. The telecom revenues reached an all time high of Rs387.15 billion in CY11, as the total teledensity had improved to 69.2 percent by December 2011.
Telecom players, mostly the mobile network operators, invested $371.5 million during CY11. However, owing to some disinvestments, the sector FDI was at negative $164.6 million last year. The 1HFY12 taxation proceeds from the sector stood at Rs58.1 billion, and PTA expects the total FY12 contributions to cross Rs120 billion.
The telecom economy of Pakistan is driven by the MNOs. The Review highlights that the mobile teledensity is the most in Sindh (over 80 percent), followed by Punjab (66 percent), but less than 50 percent in both Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. There is still room for expansion in the voice segment, especially in rural areas. However, most operators are wary due to commercial considerations.
To somewhat offset the impact of declining voice tariffs, the MNOs have been levying additional service charges on pre-paid recharges and assistance services. This shows in the aggregate topline of the MNOs which reached roughly Rs280 billion in CY11, as per the Review. The average revenue per user was hovering at $2.43 per month in December 2011, compared to $2.53 in December 2010.
Pakistan is no doubt a heavy texting market. The country’s sms traffic was ranked sixth in 2010 in Asia-Pacific, only behind China, the Philippines, Indonesia, India and Japan, according to Portio Research, a UK-based telecom research company. The Review estimates that in CY11, Pakistanis generated over 256 billion sms, nearly 50 percent more than 175 billion in CY10.
In the end, the PTA mentions the measures it has taken as the custodian of the sector. During CY11, the watchdog came up with a Tariff Awareness Guide for telecom subscribers. The objectives of the tariff guide were to inform the customers about their rights, the operators’ obligations, tariff packages, and avenues for remedies & redressals of their complaints against the operators.
The Review also informs that PTA’s crackdown on illegal SIM phenomenon has resulted into blockade of 12.6 million active SIMs and rejection of another 11 million illegal activation requests. Through the process of ‘Automation of Pre-Sale Documentation’, the regulator expects the phenomenon to recede.
During 1HFY12, PTA received 16,642 complaints, 97 percent of which are claimed to be resolved, and 133,000 subscriptions are said to be suspended for unsolicited & illegal communications. Roughly 69 percent of the complaints were against the MNOs, mostly about spamming, unsolicited telemarketing, and obnoxious & fraudulent communications. Around 29 percent of the complaints were against PTCL.
Expectedly, the telecom watchdog discussed the most-anticipated development of the sector, the auctions of the 3G mobile spectrum (and the instaphone license). However, it kept mum on the revised timeline of the delayed auctions, and mostly reiterated what was earlier published in the information memoranda. PTA is expected to complete the auctions by June 30; however, that appears uncertain right now.