Cellular growth up as subscribers reach 93.1m

LAHORE - Cellular growth picked up considerably to 1.5 per cent on month on month basis in May as overall subscribers increased to 93.1 million with Ufone and Warid each capturing 12.1pc of the net additions, keeping their market share relatively flat.
According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the Mobilink continued to gain momentum, posting the highest additions of 431K, Zong was again the most improved with respect to its subscribers while Telenor improved market share slightly.
Telecom experts said that the May data have surpassed their expectations however they estimated the cellular subscribers would likely end the year at 93.7m.
According to latest PTA data, the addition rate picked up significantly, to 1.5 per cent in May after registering 0.6 per cent in Mar, reflecting the highest MoM increase in FY09E. Net additions for May crossed the million mark to weigh in at 1.2m subscribers, 2.2 times Apr levels. Over the longer term however, the declining trend continued with the rolling 12-month industry average dropping further, albeit slightly - 537K subscribers as of May versus 579K in the previous month.
Mobilink continued to gain momentum in May, posting the highest additions of 431K subscribers- a month, which represents 37.1 per cent of the net adds and also three times its additions for Apr. With the cellular giant back in action, the boost in additions has helped stabilize its market share at 30.9 per cent, which represents a comfortable lead over its competitors.
Relatively, Zong remained the most improved through May as well, adding 135K subs - a 2.2 per cent MoM improvement in its subscriber base. Telenor posted the second highest additions of 375K subscribers which helped increase its market share slightly to 22.0%, maintaining its position as the second largest operator. Warid and Ufone managed to remain flat in terms of market share after each captured 12.1% of net additions.
Instaphone continued to experience attrition in its base, posting deletions to the tune of 76K subscribers which represent a significant decline of 45 per cent MoM.
A telecom industry expert Omair Chughtai stated that FY09YTD remained weak but tail-end boost could help surpass estimates. The PTA reported cellular teledensity at 57.9% as of May, up 0.8% MoM. The addition rate remained sluggish at 537K subs on average through FY09YTD which represents a 74.1% decline from FY08 levels of 2.1m. He said that May figures however, have already surpassed the initial expectation of 92.9mn subscribers for FY09E.