Analysis

A Digital Future: Pakistan’s 3G & 4G Coverage Profile by the Year 2020

By the year 2020, a whopping 90% of Pakistani population will have access to 3G networks while an impressive 80% population will have access to 4G. The estimates have been shared in a recent country profile report published by the Global System Mobile Association (GSMA).

The data shared in the report “A Digital Future” confirms that hefty investments in the sector by the network operators resulted in a combined 3G coverage in Pakistan to reach just under 75% of the Pakistani population by only mid-2016. Interestingly, the coverage had reached 65% of population by the end of 2015.

Pakistan 3G & 4G coverage
Key findings of report are:

  • 75% of Pakistani population availed 3G coverage by mid-2016.
  • 18% of Pakistani population availed 4G coverage by mid-2016.
  • 47% of Pakistani population, that is 90 million, turned into unique subscribers in Pakistan by mid-2016.
  • 29% of Pakistani population use mobile internet (2G, 3G or 4G)
  • Owing to affordability constraints, as well as lack of awareness about device features and services offered, mobile broadband uptake has been slow.
  • On indices measuring enablers of mobile internet connectivity: infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness and content, as compared to other countries of the region, Pakistan ranks noticeably low.
  • 60 million people are estimated to turn into mobile broadband (3G and 4G) users in Pakistan by 2020.

The GSMA report further estimates that (not including any additional spectrum costs) investments for 3G network expansion will reach $2.8 billion over the next four years – enabling around 90% of the population with 3G access by 2020.

Considering that it took off with only two operators, 4G rollout expansion has been at a rather halting pace and it reached only 18% of the population by mid-2016. However, with Mobilink acquiring Warid and Telenor beginning 4G rollout in August 2016, 4G coverage is estimated to rise swiftly to 80% of the population by 2020.

Maintaining the lowest penetration levels in South Asia, ahead of only India and Afghanistan, Pakistan has only 90 million unique subscribers, accounting for 47% of the population (by mid-2016). It is interesting to note that in addition to this, despite having an emerging digital industry, less than 30% are users of the mobile internet (2G, 3G or 4G), ahead of only Afghanistan. Not to mention, mobile internet penetration in Pakistan is 29% versus a regional average of 32%.

The report presents an in-depth analysis of Pakistan’s digital future profile, and is available for download here.

Another interesting thing I came across in the report, and I think could be benefiting for all the students of Pakistan’s digital profile, is a timeline of all the major milestones in Pakistan’s mobile market.

Pakistan 3G & 4G coverage

This has been it so far. Do share your key takeaways from the report, the hits, the misses. It’s always mind broadening to have something new to learn!

Photo: Gettyimages

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