The number of mobile connections in Pakistan squeezed past the 80m barrier in February, reaching 80.001m at the end of the month. In Issue 105 of The Mobile World Briefing, we remarked that growth seemed to be slowing in Pakistan and the latest result confirms this impression: the figure for monthly net additions (1.26m) was the lowest since November 2005.
February 2008's figure was almost half that of February 2007, when there were 2.20m new connections. Moreover, February represented the second consecutive month with fewer than 2m new connections, the first such occurrence in two years.
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Monthly Net Additions (000), July 05 - Feb 08
Market leader Mobilink, Orascom's Pakistani subsidiary, finished February with 31.06m customers. Although it remained over 14m customers ahead of its nearest rival Pakistan Telecom Mobile (U-Fone), its 0.4pp decline in market share to 38.8% at the end of February made it 24 straight months of market share loss. U-Fone gained 0.2pp in the month to hit 21.1% with 16.85m customers, but Telenor was up 0.5pp to 20.0% and narrowed the deficit in real terms to less than 1m. Telenor's figure of 665k monthly net additions was the best in the market for the second successive month, and it took its total subscriber base to 16.02m.
Fourth-placed Warid also put in a good performance in February with 406k new connections taking its total to 13.61m, but this was not enough to gain any market share and it remained flat on 17.0%.
Meanwhile, China Mobile subsidiary Paktel followed three consecutive months of double-digit proportionate growth with an 8.9% decline, shedding 210k connections to hit 2.15m. Clearly the extraordinary growth witnessed in the period between October 07 and January 08 - during which it more than doubled its subscriber base - was unsustainable.
Source: Cellular News.