Cheaper Chinese smartphones flood Pakistan, interior areas

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New Delhi (IANS) Despite a below-average mobile penetration in Pakistan, cheaper Chinese smartphones have flooded the country -- especially its interior parts.

The initial video and photos of captured Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman that the world saw on various social media platforms and created a ripple effect in the political establishments on both sides happened because of those cheap Chinese variants with the locals. 

Today, Chinese players have captured 62 per cent of the Pakistan smartphone market -- even higher than in India (55 per cent). 

According to global market research firm Counterpoint Research, the overall mobile scene in the neighbourhood is still dismal and most of the users have no option but to survive on low Internet speeds. 

"Mobile Internet Penetration is below average in Pakistan as compared to the rival countries in the region. Most of the users are still on basic voice or slow mobile internet speeds," Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research, told IANS. 

Zong (parent company China Mobile) is currently the largest network in Pakistan in terms of 4G network. Other telecom providers are Telenor, Jazz and Warid, apart from the state-run Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). 

"Penetration of 3G/4G subscribers is still around 30 per cent in Pakistan, hence faster Internet is still not a service which everyone enjoys there," Pathak noted. 

While there is over 80 per cent teledensity, the telecom industry's growth in Pakistan has particularly stagnated in the voice-based category. 

"Device ecosystem is also driven by entry-level smartphones. Half of the smartphones sold in Pakistan are still below $100 (nearly Rs 7,000 in Indian rupee)," informed Pathak. 

If we look at smartphone players, Samsung, Huawei, OPPO and Qmobile (Karachi-based consumer electronics firm) are the leading smartphone players. 

As per the Counterpoint 2018 tracker, Samsung led the market in 2018 with a share of 22 per cent, followed by Huawei at 19 per cent, OPPO at 17 per cent and Qmobile at 15 per cent. 

Motorola, Nokia, Apple and LG are other smartphone brands in Pakistan. 

A report in Pakistan-based The Express Tribune last month mentioned that anxiety is growing among mobile service providers as the deadline for the expiry of their operating licences is near. 

"The government has delayed the procedure for the renewal of their licences by over a year at least. The delay may be a serious setback for cellular services and will adversely impact phone users," the report said. 

In 2004, Warid, Jazz, Zong and Telenor bought licences for 15 years. Licences of Telenor and Warid are going to expire in May this year while Zong's licence will expire in October, said the report. 

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