Telenor planning to unleash 4G’s true potential in Pakistan
Telenor Pakistan has rather kept silent about its 4G services ever since it got hold of the additional 4G spectrum technology in August of 2016. Neither their branding nor their advertisement operations have any kind of aggression as the other competitors like Zong and the hype has seemingly died down and has definitely gone been below the line prospects.
The main reason behind this was probably some inner reframing that Telenor Pakistan underwent at that time and the early push that company required before engaging in a full-scale advertisement campaign of its 4G services.
Telenor Pakistan claims that it did rigorously planned for its 4G network and made not hasty conclusions before making an investment and rolling its network out during Q1 2017.
- Around 300,000 4G users
- More than 2,000 4G enabled sites
- 93 Cities under 4G coverage
The Director of Segments & Products, Telenor Pakistan Omar bin Tariq said “We have converted more than 2,000 cell sites to 4G network during past three months with more to come in coming quarter”,.
He also said that the total number of cities with Telenor’s 4G coverage stands over 93 presently and the count is going to see a spike in the next upcoming months.
“Telenor Pakistan is already seeing tremendous response — in terms of uptake, service consumption, usage patterns and retention — from consumers, which is actually beyond what we were expecting”, Omar said. Omar stated that the real test is keeping hold of the clients where Telenor Pakistan is doing astonishingly well.
Without keeping its plans classified, he said that Telenor will continue making investments in 4G.
4G Handset Compatibility Concerns
With a colossal amount of opportunities in the data section, Telenor seems to be a bit caught up because of restricted 4G handset accessibility in 850 MHz band.
850MHz is relatively a fresh band in the state for 4G network. Except Telenor Pakistan, there’s only one Asian Telecom brand which is deploying 4G network in 850MHz band and that is Reliance of India.
With extensive coverage openings per cell site, telecom operatives like Telenor face a situation with very few compatible handsets which operate in 850 MHz band. With a stumpy number of overall 4G compatible handsets, the 4G ecosystem is already facing under-development issues in markets like Pakistan. Furthermore, the 850MHz band limits Telenor’s opportunity of widening 4G across the masses.
A market survey reveals that less than half of 4G handsets accessible in Pakistan function with 850MHz band, narrowing Telenor’s potential in half.
“But this will not remain the same, as more operators are using 850MHz band for 4G in the region, the phone makers have started shipping 850MHz compatible 4G smartphones”, Says Omar Bin Tariq.
While making a reference to the batches during last three months, Omar stated that nearly all 4G friendly handsets now function with the 850MHz band. Additionally, Omar made a revelation that “Real challenge [for Telenor and all other operators] is that overall 4G ecosystem in Pakistan is not very developed, for instance 4G compatible handsets in Pakistan — among all smartphones — is not more than 6-7 percent”.
“So [with a balanced strategy] along side working with phone makers, we are launching Telenor branded handsets and then wingles and dongles to make sure that phone compatibility is not an issue”, he said.
The role of 4G Dongles and Wingles
Telenor is currently functioning on a way-around to sort out the situation which is to broaden the service utilization through the use of wingles and dongles.
According to the market experts, wingles and dongles are going to help operators in more than one way. They will help reduce the entry cost for users as no more heavy investments would be needed for 4G compatible smartphones.
Secondly, as the fixed network technology is either pitiable or non-existent in Pakistan, operatives can stretch out to home-users with 4G wingles to become their primary internet source for broad-spectrum functions.
Experts say that home users with 4G wingles will help achieve a long-awaited dream of telecom operators which is lower churn with higher ARPU.
But a remarkable network is needed for this to work efficiently, which means that telecom operatives must invest profoundly on the network to make it the ultimate internet provider without any tailbacks.
Unlike smartphone consumers, 4G wingle is supposed to be reliable for which the network needs to be ultra responsive and efficient.
With brilliant coverage in rural areas and millions of people looking forward to use internet for the first time, Telenor has placed itself wonderfully well to harvest the true potential that Pakistani 4G has to offer. But with competitors like Zong in the race, Telenor needs to make investments if wants the spot of the first choice operator in Pakistan.