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Wireless takes over fixed line networks, PTA report reveals

10 January, 2014

KARACHI: As a sign that Pakistan is trying to keep pace with the global trend, wireless technology took over fixed line networks for the first time in the country, revealed Pakistan Telecommunication Authority's annual report for the fiscal year 2013 (FY13).

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KARACHI: As a sign that Pakistan is trying to keep pace with the global trend, wireless technology took over fixed line networks for the first time in the country, revealed Pakistan Telecommunication Authority's annual report for the fiscal year 2013 (FY13).

The combined subscriber base of Fixed Local Loop [cable network] and Wireless Local Loop [wireless network], the report said, grew by 8.7% to reach 6.38 million at the end of June, 2013.

"Wireless technologies have finally taken over the leading position in the market with 59% share, while fixed line technologies hold 41%," the telecom regulator said in the report.

According to a sector-wise analysis by PTA, the WLL sector added 473,737 new subscribers to reach 3.3 million at the end of FY13, which translates to a 16% year-on-year growth. The FLL sector, however, grew its subscriber base by a meager 1% during the same period to end at 3 million.

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited remained the main contributor with more than 95% share in the FLL subscriptions and 37% share in the WLL market.

The local loop sector performed well to help the combined teledensity of both FLL and WLL services reach 3.6% at the end of FY13, up from 3.3% in FY12. The WLL sector was the main contributor, increasing its penetration to 1.87% in FY13, up from 1.7% in the previous fiscal year.

"This huge addition of subscribers by WLL sector has brought a new lifeline to the local loop sector – which includes both WLL and FLL sectors," the PTA said. "Hopefully, the growth pattern will be sustained in the years to come."

After five years of continuous decline, the penetration of the local loop sector reversed, which is a healthy sign for the sector, added the PTA.

The growth of the WLL sector, according to the data, was supported by the broadband sector, which recorded a 30% YoY growth in FY13.

More than half a million, 620,344 to be exact, new subscribers joined the broadband platform in the last fiscal year, according to PTA statistics. The total number of broadband subscriptions reached 2.72 million at the end of FY13.

The broadband penetration level remained low at 1.52% but the growth of wireless technologies was an encouraging sign for the sector, added the authority. "The growth pattern of broadband industry in Pakistan is typical of any market as the growth starts to drop as the subscriber numbers moves up the ladder. However, the satisfying thing is that the average annual growth rate is still above 100% in the broadband sector."

Meanwhile, Parvez Iftikhar, an expert on information communication technology, said the technological shift is in line with the global trend. "The wireless technology has evolved so much that the cable one, such as the copper wire or fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), have become less important, at least for voice services," said Iftikhar.

He added that copper has become expensive, leading to higher infrastructure costs. The laying of cable network is also problematic, he said. Wireless network, he said, serves as a good alternate.

He, however, added that wireless technology took over the fixed line networks over a decade ago – a cellular phone is also a wireless technology, he said.

"If we talk about voice service, wireless technology surpassed fixed line a long time ago but in terms of data service, it may have happened recently," Iftikhar said.

End.


 
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