The latest figures from the Pakistani telecoms regulator show that the mobile market in Pakistan grew to 78.74m customers at the end of January. The figure for monthly net additions of 1.86m was 17% down on the January 2007 total, and also represented the second lowest figure for two years, the lowest being the 1.52m recorded last October.
Orascom's Mobilink continues to dominate the market with 30.89m customers at the end of January, but it has lost market share in every month since February 2006 and January's 0.6pp fall saw it hit 39.2%, its lowest percentage since 2002. Pakistan Telecom Mobile (U-Fone) remained in second place with 16.44m customers at the end of January. However, in the last 6 months Telenor Pakistan has narrowed the deficit considerably, from 3.5m at the end of July to just over 1m at the end of January.
Monthly Net Additions by Operator
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In terms of market share, January saw Telenor just 1.4pp behind at 19.5%, compared to a 5.8pp gap at the same point in 2007. In fact, Telenor was in fourth place behind Warid in January 2007; a year later, Telenor had 15.35m to Warid's 13.38m. Telenor took 40.6% of Pakistan's total net additions in January with 754k, over double the next best figure of 374k, recorded by China Mobile subsidiary Paktel.
In terms of proportionate growth, however, Paktel was by far the fastest growing in January with an 18.9% increase in customer numbers. Paktel's performance in the past three months has been extraordinary: it has managed to more than double its subscriber base since the end of October, from 1.06m to 2.36m. November's figure of 721k new connections - a staggering 68.2% monthly growth rate - was particularly impressive, and pushed national net additions over 3m for the first time since the start of monthly reporting in June 2005. The sixth operator in Pakistan is Pakcom, which had 0.32m customers at the end of January, but which has had its licence revoked by the national regulator PTA Pakistan as a result of its failure to keep up with licence payments.
Despite November's bumper crop, growth seems to be slowing in Pakistan. The fourth quarter of 2007 saw a 9.8% growth rate, the lowest since Q2 03 and the tenth successive decline in quarterly growth. Moreover, annual growth of 58.7% was less than half the 123.8% recorded in 2006. With penetration at 45.0% at the end of 2007, there is plenty of potential for further growth, but it seems unlikely that 2008 will be able to match the 28.44m new connections recorded in 2007.
Source: Cellular News.