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Pakistan Mobile Operators Lost Rs. 1.8 Billion for Remaining Offline During Ashura

Mobile Signals Telcos Lost Rs. 1.8 Billion in Revenues for Remaining Offline During Ashura

Cellular mobile operators had to bear a collective revenue loss of Rs. 1.8 billion for shutting down the services in over 80 cities on 9th and 10th of Moharram.

Initial estimates suggest that around 100 million customers were impacted with the network closure.

It maybe recalled that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had directed all operators to shut down cellular and wireless services in over 80 cities including all major cities in Punjab, KPK and Sindh. Balochistan, this time, remained online throughout the weekend.

Rawalpindi, and its over 10 million mobile phone users, remained offline for four consecutive days, the longest black-out in the history of the city.

Based on the market share of telecom companies, the individual revenue loss of operators is as following:

  • Mobilink: Rs. 570 Million
  • Telenor: Rs. 470 Million
  • Ufone: Rs. 360 Million
  • Zong: Rs. 220 Million
  • Warid: Rs. 180 Million

In addition to Rs. 1.8 billion loss to telecom companies, government itself had to bear around Rs. 610 million loss in taxes.

As per limited data provided by telecom companies, customers also had to incur an estimated airtime loss of Rs. 100 million under the head of line-rent, SMS, voice and internet bundles that they had purchased in advance but couldn’t utilize the services due to network closure.

Note: Data presented in this report is estimated and is based on ARPU levels and market share (in terms of subscribers) of mobile phone companies.



Zong no longer interested in Warid Telecom

China Mobile’s Pakistan unit Zong is no longer interested in buying rival Warid Telecom, Zong said on Thursday, leaving Pakistan Telecommunication Co (PTCL) as the sole declared bidder for the country’s No.5 mobile operator. “Initially, we were looking at Warid pretty seriously,” said a Zong spokesman, Pakistan’s fastest-growing operator, nearly doubling its customer base since 2010-11 to 20.2 million in May. But after going through the books and everything our consultants gave us the opinion that is was better for us to opt out because of the kind of investment we would have to put in.”
Pakistan’s mobile operators are dogged by low margins, strong competition and the fact that the government has yet to hold a long-stalled 3G licence auction.
These make the sector ripe for consolidation, despite promising long-term prospects, and Warid’s Abu Dhabi owners put the ailing company up for sale after it lost nearly a third of its subscribers from a 2008-9 peak of 17.9 million. A potential sale for Warid is seen raising about $1 billion. Zong, which announced its interest in Warid in September, will instead focus on preparing to launch 3G services, the spokesman said, saying this would be “a capital intensive investment”.
Pakistan’s sale of 3G licences and accompanying spectrum has been delayed for about three years, but operators are hopeful the auction will be completed by early 2014.
Just over two-thirds of Pakistanis have a mobile phone subscription, giving some room for customer numbers to increase, while 3G should provide a significant boost to revenue.
PTCL, a unit of the United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat, bid for Warid on Sept. 30. Should it be successful, PTCL’s mobile unit Ufone would become the second largest operator. Ufone had 23.9 million subscribers in May, according to the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority.
Russia’s Vimpelcom, whose unit Mobilink is the market leader with 36.7 million subscribers, declined to comment when asked if it had bid for Warid. Vimpelcom had hired Citigroup Inc to advise on the potential acquisition of Warid, sources told Reuters in July.  Warid also declined to comment on questions relating to the company’s sale. Norway’s Telenor’s is the number two operator, with 31.7 million subscriber