Pakistan, the world’s sixth largest country by population – of approx 200 million people – had a relatively small mobile internet subscription penetration level in 2017 of just one in four of the population. However, this is set to change over the next 5 years as penetration levels are forecast to reach 78% of the population by 2022, according to GlobalData a leading data and analytics company.
June Sun, Technology Analyst at GlobalData, commented, ‘‘There are a number of reasons for the country’s low penetration figures at this time, one being that 3G and 4G technologies were launched relatively late in Pakistan in 2014 and 2015, respectively. With such low level of fixed internet penetration, Pakistan’s mobile users had to wait until 2014 for 3G connectivity to take them online.’’
For a significant portion of the population smartphones have simply been too expensive and these are needed to access mobile internet services. Whilst smartphone prices have been falling – coming close to $100 – this is still a significant portion of many people’s wages in Pakistan, where 30%* of the population lives below the poverty line.
Demand for mobile internet services has also been affected by a usage gender gap and a lack of local content. Men are twice** as likely as women to own a mobile phone in Pakistan and there is a lack of content in local Pakistani languages, which further limits demand for mobile internet usage.
Sun added, ‘‘Despite these barriers, all four mobile operators in Pakistan have launched 3G, with three of them also launching 4G. Since 2013 there has been an eightfold increase in mobile internet subscribers in Pakistan and we expect this upward trend to continue to 2022.’’
‘*’ source: United Nations
‘**’ source: International Telecommunications Union data, 2016