By Muhammad Yasir
KARACHI: Wireless Local Loop (WLL) subscribers’ base has widened by 22 percent in the country amid modest growth and healthy competition among its operators during 2007-08.
Data compiled by Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) reported that the number of WLL subscribers has increased to 2.26 million during outgoing fiscal year 2007-08, against the subscriber base of 1.85 million during 2006-08, adding around 410,524 subscribers in a year.
In absolute terms total number of WLL subscribers stands at 2,260,758 during July to June 2008, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) figures show.
PTCL (Pakistan Telecom-munication Company Limited) has larger share with 1.18 million customers followed by TeleCard, with 512,846 subscribers in tele-service market. WorldCall had 487,387 WLL subscribers and Great Bear was serving 51,280 connections by the end of 2007-08.
New WLL entrants who launched nationwide services in 2007 are Wateen, Burraq and Mytel collectively serve 20,829 subscribers. Wateen holds impressive market share of 20,289 subscriber followed by Burraq and Mytel that have 400 and 140 subscribers.
The WLL tele-density rate is 1.4. It touched 1.5-benchmark in April 2008. In past fiscal year 2006-07, WLL subscribers’ based widened by 80 percent to 1.85 million from its previous year base of 1.02 million subscribers.
Industry experts believe cellular phone companies are emerging as rival of these services, penetrating more rapidly in urban and rural areas of the country owing to portability, low cost and greater connectivity.
“Intense competition has gripped the sector ever since deregulation in 2004,” the added.
Telecommunication analyst, Farhan Rizvi of JS Capital, told that cellular phone operators are working aggressively to enhance their service network in rural areas and villages, which reflects the expanding market of cellular phone subscribers in the country.
He told that WLL companies, in an effort to gain market share are engaged in intense price wars.
“As a result, despite strong growth in customer base, especially in wireless and value added services segments, overall profit margins have suffered significantly,” he added.