This weekly newsletter focuses on the most important new developments within Pakistan’s Technology Sector. To receive this newsletter on a weekly basis subscribe to our mailing list (no spam ever) or follow me on Twitter (@adamdawood). Previous instalments of the newsletter can be found here.
136 Million Mobile Subscribers in Pakistan
PTA has just released the latest figures pertaining to the total number of mobile subscribers in the country. The overall trend has followed an upward growth trajectory with mobile subscribers amounting to 136.5 million as of March’14 . The growth rate for each of the previous 3 quarters has been 1.55%, 1.02% and 2.14% respectively. The numbers also show that Zong, which recently won the 4G license, is now the 3rd largest network provider with 25,5 million subscribers and Telenor has now crossed the 35 million subscriber mark and is currently only 3 million subscribers behind Mobilink the market leader.
The overall market may be growing but the accuracy of these figures can come into serious speculation considering certain irregularities with regards to the data. For example Telenor records zero subscriber growth between February and March, this seems highly irregular given that they showed growth of 1.4 million subscribers just the month before. The summation for the month of December’13 is also incorrect with the correct subscribers of each provider summing to 132.8m not 131.5 as stated.
Update on 3G/4G
With the recent auctions for the 3G and 4G contracts, this week has seen the onset of the telco’s marketing campaigns attempting to showcase their network strength to their existing user base. Mobilink, Telenor and Ufone have started offering their customers a free trial of 3G speeds most likely in an attempt to get them accustomed to faster data transfer speeds before the official customer facing launch.
3G services are likely to be officially launched on the 10th of May. Warid who did not participate in the auction has also announced plans to launch 4G services. Warid has held the 4G spectrum since 2004 but has not yet launched the service as yet. Considering the facts that Zong has agreed to pay the entire license fee in one go and are expected to take several months before they can launch 4G across Pakistan, their aspirations for being the first and only 4G service provider could be thwarted if Warid decides to wake up. PTA has requested Warid to submit a launch plan possibly because they might be worried for the top bidders and are attempting to delay Warid’s launch to benefit Zong.
Adoption of 3G across the country will be completely dependant on the pricing packages the networks offer. Given 4 networks will be providing 3G services, competition in most likelihood will drive prices down quite quickly. Ufone’s pricing package may have also been leaked ahead of time, with their pricing plans looking to charge upto Rs.1,200 for 3Gb’s of data at 1Mbps, and Rs.3,000 for 3Gb’s of data at 2Mbps. The plans offer multiple download speed option with the lowest tiers offering speeds beginning from 64kbps.
Telenor to Launch Payment Gateway
We have covered major banks starting payment gateways in past few issues, then last week 1Link announced the launch of a Direct Debit service by July. This week Telenor the mobile operator which already runs a mobile payments gateway by the name of EasyPaisa has announced that it will be launching an online payment gateway. Easypaisa is the market leader in the mobile banking segment and the platform has managed $3 billion worth of transactions since its launch in 2009. The timeline for launch of the online gateway is as yet not confirmed.
Plan9 Launching its 4th Incubator Cycle and soon to follow Accelerator
Plan9 Pakistan’s largest incubator has launched the selection process for its 4th incubation cycle. The 4th batch saw 1,800 teams apply out of whom 87 have been shortlisted to take part during their Launchpad event out of which just 20 teams will be invited to join the incubator. In addition to holding selection events in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, Plan9 also partnered with Acumen Fund to hold a joint selection program for 2 startups that focus solely on social entrepreneurship.
Under the Plan9 umbrella, the PITB will also be launching an accelerator dubbed PlanX. We have found out that the accelerator will be for startups that already have upto 5 full-time members and been in operation for 6 months prior to its application. Full details of the accelerator are still to be released.
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