Fixed-line networks are the backbone of modern telecommunications infrastructure that powers the digital economy. But fixed-line could grow in Pakistan. Fixed-line operators (of which PTCL dominates) generated Rs13.4 billion in revenue in FY21, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s latest annual report (PTA).
On the plus side, fixed-line revenues nearly doubled from FY11 to FY21. However, fixed-line sales represent only 2% of Pakistan’s total telecom market revenues of Rs644 billion. After stabilizing at 3 million during the last decade, fixed-line subscriptions have been under pressure recently. The current total is roughly 2.5 million. It’s unclear if subscribers are done yet.
Fixed-line subscriptions are very low in terms of population. According to the World Bank, Pakistan had one fixed-line connection per 100 people in 2020, less than the 3% average for lower-middle-income countries. Similarly, fixed broadband subscription density is low and the peer-group gap is persistent. It will take billions of dollars (!) in new capital to dramatically increase fixed coverage.