On the streets of many big cities in Pakistan, storefronts with various Chinese mobile phone brand logos are very common. At first glance, they look like a certain street in China. Behind this eye-catching logo is the deep participation of Chinese companies in Chinese enterprises to help Pakistan communications
Leading the way: covering nearly one-third of Pakistan’s 3/4G users
For a long time, Pakistan’s mobile communication has been dominated by 2G signals, and it has faced many drawbacks such as low transmission efficiency and signal instability, which cannot meet the needs of Pakistan’s domestic market. In an age where efficiency is benefit, a ” digital revolution” is inevitable.
In May 2018, the Pakistani Federal Cabinet adopted the first “Digital Pakistan Policy” submitted by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications, in an effort to create a fast and innovative digital ecosystem of digital services, information applications and technological services for Pakistan. This set off a wave of change, and the development of Pakistan’s digital economy entered the fast lane.
According to data from the Pakistan Telecommunications Administration, as of March 2021, the number of Pakistani mobile users has reached 183 million, with a penetration rate of nearly 85%, . Chinese companies have played an important role in this. Nearly one out of every three 3G and 4G users uses services from Chinese companies
As of March 2021, Pakistan has 183 million mobile communication users, among which 98 million are 3G and 4G users, with a penetration rate of 43.51%. There is still much room for growth in the future. Source: Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA)
”ZONG currently has more than 40 million customers in Pakistan, of which 27 million are 3G and 4G users. We are the first to build a 4G network in Pakistan and have been at the forefront of Pakistan’s digital age.” ZONG CEO Wang Hua told China Economic Net. ZONG is an international brand created by Simbaco, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Mobile in Pakistan. By this year, ZONG has built more than 14,000 4G base stations in Pakistan and provided high-speed mobile broadband to rural areas in Balochistan, Pakistan. In the future, it will cover 227 unserviced areas in Zafrabad, Bad and Shahbap. “ZONG hopes to take advantage of 4G LTE technology to provide a fully interconnected environment and provide reliable and affordable products.”
”Digital Pakistan” has opened a blue ocean of market expansion for ZONG. Under the leadership of mature communication technology, ZONG’s market share in Pakistan has rapidly increased, from 2% when it entered Pakistan in early 2007 to 24% in 2020, an increase of 10 times, making it the second largest communication operator in Pakistan.
With the iterative upgrade of mobile communication technology, changes in terminal supply are equally important. As one of the top manufacturers in Pakistan, OPPO has accelerated the transformation of Pakistan from functional phones to smart phones and from 3G to 4G with its technical patent reserves and market insights.
In Pakistan’s local market, Chinese mobile phone brands can be seen everywhere. Source: OPPO Pakistan
With the network set up and the terminals ready, Pakistan’s mobile internet industry has achieved leapfrog development. According to the “Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) 2020 Annual Report”, in fiscal year 2020 (July 2019 to June 2020), Pakistan’s mobile data usage reached 4,498 PB bytes (1 PB equals approximately 1000 TB), an increase of more than 77% year-on-year . The report believes that it is impossible to achieve such a large increase without the upgrade of the communication network.
Trend: Accelerate the localization of mobile phone manufacturing in Pakistan
Compared with the huge market (Chinese enterprises help Pakistan’s communications) space, Pakistan’s local mobile phone manufacturing industry has not yet formed sufficient supply capacity. Statistics from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics show that from July 2020 to May 2021, Pakistan’s mobile phone imports reached US$1.86 billion, a year-on-year increase of 63.4%. Imports of finished products and parts have not only increased the market price of mobile phones, but also exacerbated the shortage of foreign exchange in Pakistan.
Chinese mobile phone manufacturers are accelerating their localized manufacturing in Pakistan. In May, at least three Chinese companies obtained a mobile device manufacturing license issued by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, valid for 10 years. This will help reduce the overall cost of Pakistani mobile phones and activate the industry chain of mobile phone equipment from production to sales.
In fact, the telecommunications industry has increasingly become an important area for Pakistan to attract foreign investment. According to a report from the Pakistan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, Pakistan’s telecommunications industry will absorb US$623 million in foreign investment in 2020, accounting for 25% of the country’s total foreign direct investment (FDI)
The future: exploring the infinite possibilities of 5G+IoT
5G+IoT (Internet of Things) is one of the important development directions of Pakistan’s communications industry. At the end of last year, Pakistan’s Minister of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Aminul Haque, stated that the Pakistani government plans to use 5G technology in 2022 . The industry speculates that 5G technology may start application trials in some areas of Pakistan next year, and it will take three to five years to achieve wide-scale applications across Pakistan.
The challenge facing Pakistan’s 5G development is the preparation of the industrial environment, including the penetration of 5G mobile phones and the issuance of spectrum. “This is a long process for Pakistan, and it still takes time. Currently, the Pakistani government and regulatory agencies are working hard to create a 5G industry development framework, after which the license auction will be carried out.” Wang Hua revealed. As early as August 2019, ZONG has successfully tested 5G services in Pakistan and is the first in Pakistan’s communications industry.
ZONG is currently in close contact with Pakistan’s (Chinese enterprises help Pakistan) Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications (MOITT) and Pakistan’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to participate in the formulation of Pakistan’s 5G roadmap. “I hope that the Pakistani government will give preferential policies in terms of investment and innovation, and realize the 5G environment in Pakistan(Chinese enterprises help Pakistan’s communications) as soon as possible.” Wang Hua said.
”OPPO launched its first 5G-enabled device, Reno5 Pro 5G, in Pakistan earlier this year.” Long Gang said that OPPO has also launched a series of wearable products such as TWS headsets, smart bracelets, and smart watches in Pakistan. ” We will continue to explore the infinite possibilities of combining IoT products and 5G technology in Pakistan.”