Jazz Grabs Additional 4G Spectrum as Pakistan Mobile Market Heats TopUp



Jazz Grabs Additional 4G Spectrum as Pakistan Mobile Market Heats Up

Jazz Grabs Additional 4G Spectrum as Pakistan Mobile Market Heats Up. Jazz (a VEON subsidiary) made its intentions known that it will maintain its leadership position in the growing Pakistan mobile market. Pakistan is also the second largest market for VEON and for that reason not only it led them to the historical merger with Warid quite recently but the changes in the company speaks volume of the Group growing interest. The group has made substantial investments in Pakistan. Now with the additional 4G spectrum it will be able to compete more aggressively in the growing Pakistani market specially mobile broadband (MBB). This also rings alarm for other big names Telenor and Zong (China Mobile) who shall be looking to the regulator for making additional spectrum available in the short to medium term.

The regulator Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) should be proud of completely the NGSMA process it started in 2014- something that predecessors could not achieve during last 10 years not only it earned USD 1.98 billion for the Government but importantly rejuvenated the mobile market that is now heating up further.
Overview of Pakistani Mobile Spectrum:

Presently, Jazz uses three frequency bands i.e. 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz. For Data, it uses 10 Mhz of the 2100 Mhz for 3G and for 4G it has re-farmed 1800 MHz of Warid. Now, technically, Jazz will start working on aggregating the carriers to further improve the network data rates and the digital service portfolio.
With the additional 4G spectrum Jazz will be able to compete more aggressively in the growing Pakistani market specially MBB

Jazz certainly now has the largest chunk of spectrum available and also has the highest number of subscribers and it will strive to further improve its services by utilizing this additional spectrum of 10 MHz and maintain its market position.

Telenor until last year only had 18.6 MHz but during the end of the year were able to secure an additional 10 MHz spectrum in 850 Mhz band in the 02nd round of auction in which it was the only participant. It had to take an unconventional spectrum for its MBB since its network choked for spectrum.  It will now have to work hard to get additional spectrum to realize its dream of competing with the market leader and offer digital services that it announced quite recently.

Zong acquired quite some spectrum i.e. 20 MHz in the 01st round of NGMSA auction in 2014 and that is why it didn’t showed interest in the recent auction but it is also will now be pressed hard to get additional spectrum as they made substantial investment in 4G network and service expansion for the last couple of year following the first round of auction.

The major disappointment was the poor performance of Etisalat run company Ufone that failed again to participate in the auction thus making things difficult for recovering its downward trend.  Ufone having failed to get any substantial spectrum earlier in the NGMSA held in 2014 and then in the 02nd round, was expected to participate in the auction keeping in view its spectrum requirement.  Ufone’s decreasing overall subscriber base and its stalled MBB subscription rate has also made it more important for them to get additional spectrum but there choice to abstain from the auction is being termed as a suicidal for the company’s failing position. Ufone has the lowest amount of overall spectrum available i.e. 18.6 MHz for both voice & data. It has 5Mhz in 2100 Mhz and at some places a refarmed spectrum in 900 Mhz available for MBB.

Presently, Jazz is leading the Pakistani mobile market with around 55 mn overall cellular subscribers. Whereas, Telenor was close to Jazz 3G subscribers untill Jazz merged with Warid. But Telenor has 40 million subscribers out of which there are 10 million 3G and 0.3 mn 4G users.  Zong, has 28 million users but it is leading the 4G market due to its 3 million subscriber’s base. At fourth place we have Ufone with 18 million overall users out of which only 4 million are 3G subscribers; this figure is decreasing due to its small chunk of 5 MHz band of 3G.

Jazz has made an extraordinary move as it moves closer to getting the additional 10 MHz that will help it further grow and lead the fast growing mobile industry of Pakistan



Saima Ibrahim is a Technology Journalist at PhoneWorld Magazine and Coordinator at Central Asian Cellular Forum (CACF). She is inclined towards modern technology trends and truly believes that the most important thing about a technology is how it changes people; when not writing she enjoys reading.