Pakistan’s mobile internet penetration continued a steady climb through July and August, though the bulk of subscribers remain on 3G rather than 4G tariffs, figures from the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) revealed.

The country’s 3G penetration increased by almost 1 per cent to 27 per cent at end-August as operators Zong, Jazz, Telenor India and PTML (Ufone) added a combined 1.3 million 3G subscribers compared to end-June. The 3G penetration rate is up from 21 per cent at end-June 2016 (PTA did not break out monthly figures for 2016 in its latest update, meaning a year-on-year comparison of August figures is not available).

Jazz added 747,664 3G subscribers between end-June and end-August, taking its 3G base to 13.2 million or 25 per cent of its 52.7 million total mobile subscriber base. Ufone signed up 338,339 3G subscribers for a total of 5.3 million (29 per cent of its overall subscriber base); Zong added 131,887 3G subscribers, leaving it with 8.8 million in total (30.8 per cent); and Telenor added 114,809 for a total 3G subscriber count of 10.6 million (26 per cent).

4G growth
Figures for 4G also increased rapidly between end-June and end-August. Zong, Jazz and Telenor – the three operators offering 4G services – added more than 1 million LTE subscribers taking the country’s total to 6.6 million, or 4.8 per cent of total subscriber numbers. In contrast, 4G penetration at end-June 2016 was less than 1 per cent.

Zong picked up 532,204 new 4G subscribers between end-June and end-August, Jazz added 299,098 and Telenor 242,126.

The additions mean Zong, the country’s third largest mobile operator, expanded its 4G lead, with 4.57 million subscribers accounting for 68.7 per cent of total LTE subscribers at end-August. Overall market leader Jazz ended August with 1.24 million 4G subs, and Telenor had 849,139.

According to data from OpenSignal’s State of LTE report at end-June, Pakistan’s average 4G download connection speed of 11.7Mb/s was higher than in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia and India.

Pakistan’s mobile subscriber base rose to 139.9 million at end-August from 139.7 million at end-June. At end-June 2016, total subscribers stood at 133.2 million.