Pakistan's Phone Wars: Consolidation or Cold Comfort?
Pakistan’s Phone Wars: Consolidation or Cold Comfort?

Pakistan’s crowded mobile market is finally seeing some reshuffling, with PTCL’s acquisition of Telenor Pakistan expected to be the final act. But is this consolidation a win for everyone?

Read More: PTCL Acquires 100% of Telenor Pakistan in Landmark Telecom Deal

Three’s a Crowd, Maybe More: PTCL CEO Hatem Bamatraf believes the market, squeezed by low revenues and fierce competition, is only big enough for three players. This deal, worth $380 million, will create Pakistan’s largest telco, surpassing Jazz in market share.

A Long-Awaited Waltz: Analysts have predicted consolidation since Mobilink merged with Warid to become Jazz in 2015. Average revenue per user (ARPU) has plummeted from nearly $9 to just $0.8, squeezing profits for everyone.

Telenor’s Tango with Tough Times: With declining revenue and a challenging economic climate, Telenor saw the exit door. Their low-income strategy, delayed 3G/4G rollout, and high expenses fueled the fire.

Ufone’s Uneven Footing: PTCL’s Ufone hasn’t fared much better. A late entry into 4G, reliance on 3G, and a debt burden hampered its growth.

Consolidation: Hope or Hype? The combined Ufone-Telenor entity might be the king of the hill, but challenges remain. Low ARPU, scarce spectrum, and its dollar-linked price tag still loom large.

Opportunities in the Ashes: PTCL sees growth potential in the merger. Dowidar, CEO of E& (Etisalat’s parent), envisions investments in a next-generation network and expanded rural coverage through Telenor’s infrastructure.

The Jury’s Still Out: While consolidation might address immediate concerns, the real question remains: Can this reshuffle revive a market plagued by low value and high costs? Only time will tell if this tango leads to prosperity or another dance with decline.

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