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Pakistan Telecom and IT updates


Number of cellular subscribers falls to 189.74m: PTA

ISLAMABAD: The number of cellular subscribers in Pakistan decreased from 190.44 million by end-August 2023 to 189.740 million by end-September 2023, the Pakistan Telecommuni-cation Authority (PTA) data revealed.

The cellular teledensity has declined from 79.87 percent by end-August 2023 to 79.44 percent by end-September. Total teledensity decreased from 80.95 percent by end-August to 80.52 percent by end-September.

The number of 3G and 4G users in Pakistan increased by 0.320 million from 126.610 million by end-August 2023 to 126.930 million by end-September.

The Monthly Next Generation Mobile Service (NGMS) penetration increased from 53.1 percent by end-August to 53.14 percent by end-September.

Jazz’s total count for 3G users declined from 4.148 million by end-August to 3.893 million by end-September. Jazz 4G users increased from 43.010 million by end-August to 43.162 million by end-September.

Zong 3G subscribers decreased from 2.425 million by end-August to 2.378 million by end-September while the number of 4G users increased from 33.269 million by end-August 33.494 million by end-September.

Telenor 3G subscribers decreased 2.720 million by end-August to 2.656 million by end-September while the number of 4G users of Telenor increased from 23.260 million by end-August to 23.320 million by end-September.

Ufone 3G users stood at 2.481 million by end-September compared to 2.676 million by end-August. The number of 4G users of Ufone increased from 13.616 million by end-August to 14.044 million by end-September.

The PTA received 13596 complaints from telecom consumers against different telecom operators and cellular operators in September 2023, out of which, 13459 (99 percent) were resolved.

Official data revealed that the complaints were received against various telecom operators, including cellular mobile operators (CMOs), Pakistan Telecommuni-cations Company Limited (PTCL), long-distance international (LDI) operators, wireless local loop (WLL) operators, and internet service providers (ISPs), during September.

Cellular mobile subscribers constitute a major part of the overall telecom subscriber base. Therefore, the maximum number of complaints belongs to this segment. The total number of complaints against CMOs by September stood at 13077, out of which, 12971 (99.2 percent) were addressed.

According to the PTA data, 6,117 complaints were received against Jazz, out of which, 6,072(99 percent) were resolved. Further, 2,241 complaints against Telenor were received, out of which, 2,224 (99.2 percent) were resolved. Likewise, 3,365 complaints were received against Zong, out of which, 3,342 (99.6 percent) were addressed. A total of 1357 complaints were received against Ufone, out of which 1,327 (97.8 percent) were resolved.

The PTA also received 125 complaints against basic telephony, out of which, 114 were addressed during September with a resolution rate of 91.2 percent. Furthermore, 388 complaints were received against ISPs, of which, 368 (94.8 percent) were addressed

New telecom framework, 5G auction committee approved​

By Staff Reporter
Oct 26, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has approved the telecom infrastructure-sharing framework and green-lighted the formation of a committee to auction the spectrum for the next-generation 5G wireless network, Caretaker IT Minister Dr Umar Saif said on Wednesday.

The infrastructure-sharing framework aims to help telecom companies jointly use resources, including towers, antennas and cable ducts, optimise resource consumption and possibly cut operational costs.

The minister hoped the framework’s adoption would also open doors for new companies to enter the domestic telecom space.

As for the 5G auction, he said the new panel — to be headed by Caretaker Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar — would play a key role in rolling out the faster network. The committee would also include the ministers for IT, science and technology, industries and production, the secretaries of relevant ministries, and Federal Board of Revenue officials.

Dr Saif said the committee’s primary task would be to assess the spectrum’s availability across various frequency bands — including 700, 1,800, 2,100 and 2,600 megahertz (MHz) — and proceed with its auction, based on recommendations of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

He said the total spectrum released to the four telecom companies operating in Pakistan was inadequate to meet consumer needs.

The minister praised the IT ministry for pioneering initiatives over the past two months to amplify IT and telecom sector exports, including steps like fostering local mobile phone production, propelling freelancer growth, and reducing import reliance.

Govt to launch Pakistan Startup Fund, 5G internet by mid-2024​

The caretaker government has unveiled plans to establish a ‘Pakistan Startup Fund’ to attract venture capital investment. Additionally, the government aims to introduce next-generation 5G internet by mid-2024, according to the Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, Dr. Umar Saif.

Dr. Umar Saif revealed that the interim administration has allocated over Rs2 billion for the creation of this fund, which will be matched by private investors. Furthermore, commitments from venture capitalists are set to provide an additional Rs8 billion in Series ‘A’ financing for startups that graduate from the fund.

This announcement came following a strategic partnership signing ceremony between Habib Bank Ltd (HBL) and the Pakistan Software Houses Association (P@SHA). The Information Minister highlighted that co-working spaces will be established to accommodate around half a million IT freelancers, promoting a conducive environment for tech-driven innovation.

He said that the interim administration is working diligently on the project, with the expectation of completing the groundwork before the newly elected administration takes office. The plan also includes the initiation of the 5G auction process.

Dr. Saif acknowledged the contributions of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and mentioned that IT companies are now permitted to retain 50 percent of their revenue in US dollar accounts. Corporate debit cards will also be issued by banks to these companies, facilitating international payments and boosting export earnings.

Muhammad Aurangzeb, President and CEO of HBL, expressed his confidence in the potential of the IT industry as a major driver of economic growth and job creation in Pakistan. He underlined HBL’s commitment to becoming a ‘Technology Company with a Banking License’ and the collaboration’s role in engaging with key stakeholders in the IT, freelancer, software, and gaming industry to provide innovative financial solutions and services tailored to the IT sector’s specific needs.

EDB invites mobile phone makers for policy consultation

The Engineering Development Board (EDB) has called authorised mobile phone manufacturers on November 10 for preliminary discussions to prepare the new policy on mobile devices and allied equipment manufacturing, read an EDB letter on Tuesday.

The board has sought the meeting after the Mobile Device Manufacturing Policy 2020-23 (MDMP 2020-23) expired this year. Introduced by the then Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government, the policy managed to attract 31 mobile companies to Pakistan.

“The current and proposed tariff of local manufacturing of mobile devices and selection of items and preparation of tariff structure for allied equipment such as POS machines, tablets etc for promotion of eco-system will be analysed,” stated the letter sent to authorised mobile phone manufacturers.

PIF, STC to form region’s biggest telecom tower firm​

Will set up new company with 30k towers valued at $6.7b with annual revenues of $1.3b

April 23, 2024


Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF has agreed to buy a 51% stake in Telecommunication Towers Company Ltd (TAWAL) from STC Group, paving the way for the creation of the region’s largest telecom tower company, PIF and STC said on Monday.

Under the agreement, PIF and STC will combine TAWAL and Golden Lattice Investment Company (GLIC) to set up a newly-formed company with around 30,000 mobile tower sites and estimated annual revenues of around $1.3 billion, they said in a joint statement.

The combined new entity will be owned 54% by PIF and 43.1% by STC, while GLIC minority shareholders will own the remaining share capital. The deals, including the 51% stake sale for an expected cash consideration of 8.7 billion riyals ($2.32 billion) are expected to be completed in the second half of the year.

“The deal marks a milestone in the establishment of the biggest Tower company in the region with 30k towers valued at $6.7billion,” Ziad Itani, head of TMT equity research coverage at Arqaam Capital, told Reuters in an emailed statement.

“STC is a clear beneficiary from the deal of as the sale price of Tawal” is bigger than five times its book value and five times its revenues, Itani said, adding that the cash inflows of 8.7 billion riyals will allow the company “to pursue additional M&A and investment opportunities”.

STC CEO Olayan Mohammed Alwetaid told Reuters that the transaction was “a step forward in STC Group’s expansion, growth, and recycling the return on investment.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2024.

FBR orders PTA, telcos to block over 500,000 mobile SIMs of non-filers

  • Authority says decision taken after they failed to file taxes
April 30, 2024

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Tuesday ordered that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and telecom operators block 506,671 SIM cards belonging to non-filers, Aaj News reported.

An Income Tax General Order was issued to disable the SIM cards of persons "who are not appearing on the active taxpayer list but are required to file the Income Tax Retum for Tax Year 2023 under the provisions of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 ”.

Tax evaders' SIM cards "will remain blocked until restored by the FBR or the Inland Revenue commissioner having jurisdiction over them," the FBR said.

Earlier, the FBR issued final notices to non-filers for blocking their mobile SIM cards and mobile phones.

One of the notices issued to the non-filers said, “You were issued notice under section 114B to file return, non-compliance results in disconnection of electricity, gas & mobile connections. Please file return immediately,” it added.

The FBR has also implemented the strategy to disconnect the electricity and gas connections of non-filers.

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