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Mobile Internet: Are we Back to Square One?

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Not long ago, we had 3.7 million broadband subscriptions in the country when PTCL’s EVO used to be the only mobile broadband solution available to the nation.
While we had WiMAX, DSL, Fiber and other broadband channels available for a while, infrastructural insufficiency contributed to only marginal areas (mainly urban) having access to broadband internet services. And even those who had broadband access, faced quality of service issues thanks to old-age copper media.
That was a time when we, here at ProPakistani, used to get tons of emails each day from users inquiring about the best ISP available in their areas or other specific needs they used to have back then, such as portable internet connection with fairly huge data limits and so on.
Then there came a time when our Facebook timelines were flooded with speedtests, H+ signs on our mobile screens, jubilation and contentment from the nation on finally having an internet connection that we could rely upon.
This was when 3G/4G was launched in Pakistan.
Down the line, for few months, we kept hearing stories about new packages, 3G launches in new cities, offerings and the race between telcos had begun, mainly for two things:
  • Number of 3G customers
  • Number of cities with 3G coverage
This time of well-being didn’t last long.
Today, in April 2016 — exactly after two years of 3G/4G launch in Pakistan — quality of service for 3G/4G networks has gone down to a level where people have stopped relying on their mobile internet and are actively looking for alternate options.
PTCL’s EVO is out of discussion when you talk about reliability.
On the other hands, if you look at 3G/4G networks, then mobile phone companies with 5MHz spectrum are suffering more than others.
12 million customers (7.2 Million for Telenor and 4.8 Million for Ufone) are back to GPRS/EGDE era as their mobile internet only works when all mobile phone users connected to same cell-site are either sleeping or are busy watching India-Pakistan cricket match. Otherwise there’s no chance of any browsing, let alone the downloading.
While PTA’s QoS survey suggest that Ufone, Mobilink and Zong have increased their average 3G speeds, our conversation with readers tells a completely different story.
And frankly PTA’s QoS survey at selected location in 3-4 major metropolitan out of several hundred cities can’t depict the real state of network quality,
Our discussions with officials of mobile phone companies also confirms that Telenor and Ufone have over-used their spectrum and are now compromising on quality of service. Ufone had thought of refarming their spectrum, but reportedly they have dropped the idea.
With no further auction in foreseeable future, Zong and Mobilink are soon going to join their counterparts as customers are only growing with internet pipe remaining the same in size.
This leaves us wondering if PTA is really looking into such things and if it has any plans to get a better user experience to millions of mobile internet users?
You can participate in below poll in telling us if Quality of Service really decreased?
Is 3G/4G Still a Reliable Internet Connection for You?

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