The customer registration programme instituted by Pakistani regulator the PTA began to take effect in Q3 08, and growth in that period slumped to less than a third of that recorded in Q3 07. The final quarter of the year saw an even worse result, the total declining by 0.30m to finish on 89.91m.
Although all of Pakistan's six operators appear to have been affected to some degree by the disconnection of unregistered customers, market leader Mobilink (Orascom) was by far the hardest hit. It lost 0.67m customers in Q3 and 2.88m in Q4, and finished the year with 28.48m, down 7.0% annually. January and February saw continued losses, a two-month decline of 0.36m taking its total customer base to 28.12m. Its market share at the end of February was 30.7%, a 13-year low.
Pakistan: Monthly Net Additions
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In second place at the end of 2008 was Telenor, which overtook Ufone (Pakistan Telecom Mobile) during Q4. It was an extraordinary conclusion to a year which saw a ferocious battle between the two operators for second spot. With 19.39m customers to Ufone's 19.30m the race remained very tight at the end of the year, but by the end of February Telenor had extended its lead to 0.35m with 19.84m to its rival's 19.50m.
In fourth place at the end of 2008 was Warid, which finished with 16.91m customers. Its quarterly gain of 0.76m was second only to Telenor's 0.92m. At the end of February it had 17.25m customers having added a total of 0.34m in the first two months of the year. Zong (China Mobile) seemed to be severely affected by the registration programme, its fourth-quarter gain being massively below the Q2 and Q3 08 figures of 1.81m and 1.14m respectively; however, the slowdown may simply have been a natural consequence of the phenomenal rate of growth seen previously. It bounced back in January, recording a market-leading gain of 0.35m, but February saw a disappointing figure of 0.13m. It finished the month with 5.98m customers.
In fact, February was a disappointing month for all of Pakistan's operators, with none managing a gain in excess of 0.2m. The aggregated boost of 0.30m took the market total to 91.01m.
Source: Cellular News.