July / August  2006





August/September Contents 

Sufis - wisdom against

 Sufi poet saints

 50 years of mountain

 Interviews with:
 Ajaz Anwar
Iqbal Hussain
Kamil Mumtaz

 Heritage cities:
 Taxila Dharmrajika
 Bhera - Part I
Bhera - Part II


Cotton - the fibre of

Cotton textiles of
 South Asia

 Handlooms & Dyes

 Hiran Minar


 Lahore Gymkhana

 B2B - Part I

B2B - Part II

Optical Networks I
Optical Networks II

Role of Internet in
 S Asian development

Technology and
 investment in US
 stock markets

Security & Trust in
 Internet banking

 Telecom & software
 - trends & future in
 South Asia

China & India - major
 players by 2025

Pakistan - IT Markets
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV








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Pakistan – Markets in IT & Telecomm Convergent Technologies

Part III


 the Special report undertaken for The abstracts will be published in parts over the next year. The complete unabridged report is available to interested readers for U.S. $300.00


Salman Minhas


First published in September 2003



Cellular mobile telecommunication services were introduced in Pakistan in 1990. Four operators currently provide this service and their subscriber base as of December 1998 and 2003 was roughly as follows:

PTA DATA – Web Site <www.PTA.Gov>



Year 95-96 96-97 1997-98 98-99 99-00 00-01 01-02
Instaphone 21,000 43,000 53,000 108,000 112,000 220,000 320,000
Mobilink 16,000 53,000 83,000 87,000 114,000 309,000 570,000
Paktel 31,000 40,000 60,000 70,000 80,000 97,000 206,000
(U-fone) NA NA NA NA NA 117,000 142,000
Total 68,000 136,000 196,000 266,000 306,000 743,000 1,238,000
Growth % NA 98% 45% 35% 15% 142% 66%


Cellular mobile telecommunication services were introduced in Pakistan in 1990. Four operators currently provide this service and their subscriber base as of December 1998 and 2003 was roughly as follows:


Mobile Cellular Phone Company

Cellular Phone Customers

1998 - 2003

GSM- digital


35,000 1,200,000

GSM- digital


--- 700,000

AMPS- analog


43,000 100,000

AMPS- analog


54,000 100,000


TOTAL Cellular

132,000 2,100,000


In 1998, it was estimated that the combined customer base of cellular mobile telecom companies exceeded 140,000, and with the rapid growth in this sector, the number of users was expected to exceed 200,000 by the year 2000. According to the PTA, cellular telephone penetration in Pakistan in December 1996 was 2.3 per 100 persons. In June 1998, this figure was 2.6 per 100 persons.

Cellular tariffs are regulated by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). Realizing the growth potential available in the business, the operators are investing in upgrade of infrastructure, improvement in quality of service, introduction of higher value-added services, in addition to expanding coverage. All the three service providers are in a shake-out mode as the old Analog technologies AMPS used by Instaphone and Paktel are reportedly under competitive pressure .Arfeen Instaphone is trying to upgrade to digital GSM technology but the issue of frequency allocation has hindered this upgrade. Mobilink’s network has reached capacity problems and although the recent March 2003 meetings with the Orascom CEO has produced big ads and headlines that Mobilink will invest $ 300 in the next 3 years , the fact is that they have been fined Rs 350 million by the PTA for Quality of Service issues.

Presently, the following four companies provide mobile telephone service in Pakistan:

5.1 Analog-- AMPS - Mobile Cellular Networks - Paktel & Instaphone :- 1997

At the same time Analog mobile networks [ AMPS] made their entry into south-Asia with Pakistan leading the way ahead of India. Two companies Paktel and Instaphone started offering mobile phone services in major cities in Pakistan . Paktel is a joint venture between Cable & Wireless (80%) and Hasan Associates (Pvt.). Ltd. (20%). It is facing an uncertain future with stiff competition and old analog technology. Instaphone is joint venture with Millicom [ Europe based company ] and Pakistan business group of Arfeen, Karachi . Arfeen is trying to upgrade its Analog technology to a GSM or CDMA based technology network but there are uncertainties on the issue of frequency allocation by the FAB & PTA.

Paktel: It is a joint venture between Cable & Wireless (80%) and Hasan Associates (Pvt.). Ltd. (20%). The company's operations cover all the principal cities of Pakistan. Paktel was one of the first two companies to establish cellular service in the country. Presently, it has the largest market share, but its growth rate is gradually declining in face of stiff competition from Instaphone and Mobilink. It has also been reported that Cable & Wireless is interested in dis-investing its share in Paktel for strategic reasons.

Pakcom (Brand name: Instaphone) was incorporated in 1991 as a subsidiary of Sanbao Telecom (a subsidiary of Millicom International Cellular S.A.). It offers country wide coverage and operates in all provinces of Pakistan. Instaphone has recently launched a pre-paid cellular service called "Insta-One". The company is now in the process of installing Digital Radio Base Stations (DRBS) nationwide. Through these DRBS, Instaphone will be able to provide its customers with data communication services, fax data transmission, short message service, combined with greater voice clarity and improved coverage. Instaphone offers a variety of value-added services such as caller line identification, call waiting, conference calling, call forwarding, etc.


5.2 GSM - Mobilink & 2001 – PTCL’s Ufone: 1999

Mobilink is a joint venture with Orascom a Egypt based company and Saif Telecoms , a NWFP based business-policians family . It has currently about 1 million mobile users in all major cities and towns in Pakistan. However its service has fallen below acceptable standards and it has been fined Rs 300 million for its poor Quality of Service.

Pakistan Mobile Communications (Pvt) Ltd. (Brand name: Mobilink): Is a joint venture between Motorola, Orascom – an Egyptian Mobile Telecom Group with holdings in the Middle -East and Saif Telecom of Pakistan. With headquarters in Islamabad, Mobilink covers approximately 85 percent of Pakistan's urban population. It has the fastest growing network and is the only cellular operator offering the GSM platform. Mobilink also offers several value added services such as single access code, caller line identification, call waiting, call holding, call forwarding, fax & data service, etc. Mobilink service was launched in 1994.

Mobilink has recently introduced a pre-paid cellular service called "Jazz", and also provides international roaming service to its customers.

PTCL has also incorporated and established a cellular mobile phone subsidiary called Pak Telecom Mobile Company (PTML) [ Brand Name Ufone ] . This setup uses the NORTEL GSM platform for its cellular service.

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