ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is the fourth cheapest market in the region in terms of monthly cost of owning a mobile phone.
The average cost of owning and using a mobile phone in Pakistan is Rs 222.41 ($2.21). As compared to rest of world, prices in Southeast Asia are among the lowest, especially in emerging telecom markets, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has revealed.
In the list of mobile cost, Sri Lanka is ranked as the cheapest market for using a mobile phone. The average monthly cost there is only $ 0.97 which is followed by Bangladesh with an average monthly cost of $1.42 and Iran with $2.01 per month. Pakistan comes in at a close fourth.
However, when compared with annual per capita income of the citizens of a country, the Gulf States take the top spot. Per capita income is very high in the Gulf countries while the average monthly costs for using mobile phones are reasonable.
Pre-paid mobile users in these states spend less than 0.3 percent of their annual income per capita.
The average per capita income in Pakistan is $1,513. So, countries with a low general income tend to go for cheaper rates anyway, while telecom operators in countries with high incomes can make more profit by increasing their service costs.
Experts are of the view on Saturday that such a trend is unhealthy for the development of the telecom industry and cut-throat competition and high taxation are a combination that should not come together. This increases the burden on the cellular service providers as lower tariffs and higher taxes mean less profit for these companies.
Mobile companies invested heavily in the 3G/4G auctions in 2014 and then upgraded their networks to new generation technologies and equipment to manage the extensive load.
According to Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA), cellular traffic has kept on increasing in recent times as mobile operators are now offering more talk time per rupee. The stated reason is that high competition and the threat of Over-The-Top (OTT) services.
While SMS and calls are cheap in Pakistan, internet connectivity cost is comparatively much higher and could cause this rank to go higher in the future.
PTA acknowledged that telecom providers are the backbone of the telecommunications industry in Pakistan and according to the Regulator, 3G and 4G services have provided a much needed boost to the cellular sector creating several new revenue generation opportunities.