by Ahmed Rayyan
The cellular phone subscription has witnessed tremendous increase of 10.966 million in eleven months of the closing fiscal year 2011-12, widening the overall base to 119.860 million by May 2012.
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 period.
The overall teledensity of cellular phone users reached 68.6 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.
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.
Moreover, mobile phone operators’ aggressive marketing and sales companies for retaining and adding new customers with free minutes and SMS bundles also attracted customer to carry multiple SIMs. The cellular operators penetration to small cities have increased on the expansion of their network and sales and services centres continuously that generated results in terms of their growth in subscriptions.
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. Overall the market is growing not only subscribers but with business as well.
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.
Correction in Subscribers’ base
The correction of subscribers’ base likely if the PTA restricts limit of 5 SIM per CNIC on the existing cellular phone connections as per supreme judiciary order.
Recently, PTA has set the limit over the purchase of subscription by one individual from 50 SIMs to 5 SIMs in its amended Subscribers Antecedents Verification Regulations.
According to the new rule, an individual can get subscription of 5 SIMs – prepaid or postpaid—on one CNIC from different or once cellular phone companies.
The authority has issued its new orders following the direction of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who asked authority to stop illegal sale in Baluchistan and restrict one subscriber to get five SIMs.
Previously an individual could purchase 10 SIMs of one subscriber, that is, 50 for 5 different cellular phone companies in total.
Officials of the cellular phone companies feared of blocking millions of SIMs if the orders will be implemented on overall subscribers’ base as there are scores of individuals having many SIMs registered on their CNIC.