ISLAMABAD: “The average cellular subscriber in Pakistan now uses 7.5 GBs of mobile data per month (as of January 2023), a significant increase from just 2 GBs in 2018. If this trend continues, the average Pakistani cellular subscriber could be using up to 12 GBs per month in the next five years.”
These insights were shared by Jazz CEO Aamir Ibrahim while talking to the Business Recorder.
He highlighted the need for enabling policies for the telecom sector to help continually meet the growing mobile data demand in Pakistan.
The growth in data demand has been supported by a $4 billion investment by cellular operators, the majority share of which has been invested by Jazz.
While stressing that increased data growth delivers enormous socioeconomic dividends, Aamir cautioned that the telecom industry’s dollarized cost structure had caused the per-user average revenues to dip to $0.75 - the lowest globally. “An ARPU below $1.5 is not sustainable for the industry to operate,” he stressed.
He also pointed out import ban restrictions on essential telecom equipment limiting telecom operators’ ability to expand connectivity and even perform routine maintenance operations impacting service reliability.
Import ban restrictions have also caused some of the newly-established smartphone manufacturing units in Pakistan to shut down. This could make even the most motivated industry players give up the dream of becoming Vietnam or India in terms of local manufacturing, and ultimately further inflate the import bill.
Aamir added that while the industry, in general, and, Jazz, in particular, were doing their best to accelerate the local digital ecosystem, the financial health of the telecom industry remained severely impacted due to an unprecedented rise in business costs.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023
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