While Telecom operators may be going against PTA in terms of the spectrum renewal pricing but the regulator has acknowledged that the telecommunication sector is the largest in terms of bringing in foreign investment to the company. Over the span of the last 15 years, Telecom operators have spent around $18 billion in Pakistan despite being one of the most taxed sectors of the country.
The statistics released by PTA show that the number of mobile phone connections in the country has grown from 94 million in 2008 to 154 million in 2018, almost 60 million growth in subscribers. Furthermore, there are now 66 million 3G/4G users in Pakistan, growing from zero in 2014. Data consumption of mobile users on 3G/4G networks experienced a growth of almost 5 times with data going from 260,997 TB in 2016 to 1,258,843 TB in 2018.
Almost 88% of Pakistan is covered by at least one operator and there are a total of 42,000 towers operational. The telecom sector has also been responsible for creating around 14,000 direct jobs in the country as well as hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs showing that this sector is a vital part of our economy. Yet in comparison to other countries, Pakistan Telecom operators are more taxed than anyone else yet they are still managing to sustain their growth patterns.
Telecom Operators have protested against the government recently Jazz and Telenor stepped up and taken the issue to court over the pricing of the spectrums. The government had 2 years to decide the renewal price of the spectrums but 2 weeks before the deadline, they increased it. Jazz CEO Aamir Ibrahim expressed his concern that the high price of the spectrum renewal worries foreign investors. Later on, the price for the spectrum renewal for Jazz and Telenor was set at $450 million whereas Zong would pay $470 million.
What are your thoughts regarding operators role in the growth of infrastructure in Pakistan?