Pakistan Tops SMS Growth
With cellular phone penetration exceeding 50%, the Pakistan mobile market is continuing to experience rapid subscriber growth with thousands of customers signing up every month. The growth in subscriber rate has consequently led way to triple digit growth in messaging traffic over last year, according to Acision, a major international player in the mobile messaging business.
A total of 6.37 billion text messages were sent through Acision messaging systems across Asia Pacific over the 2008/2009 Christmas and New Year period. The top five countries with the highest SMS traffic processed over the festive season were the Philippines, again leading the ranking with 2.36 billion messages, closely followed by Indonesia (1.193 billion), Malaysia (1.075 billion) and Pakistan (763 million), according to the PC World.
While Pakistan ranks fourth in the total number of text messages sent during Christmas-New Year season of 2008-2009, the country tops the list with 253% annual growth in traffic volume, followed by Philippines (65 percent), Australia (57 percent), Indonesia (27 percent) and Malaysia (13 percent).
The dramatic SMS growth is good news for mobile operators in Pakistan. Most operators around the world continue to rely on text messaging as a critical source of data revenues. A recent report published by Pyramid Research says that mobile data will account for 29 percent of the global mobile service revenue in 2012, up from 19 percent in 2007. Clearly, the mobile data opportunity is soaring: the 2007 mobile data revenue was more than double what it was in 2004, and Pyramid Research expects it to double again to $300 billion by 2012.
SMS will continue to generate the highest share of global mobile data revenue through 2012 and will make a larger impact in emerging markets. However, SMS revenue as a percentage of mobile data revenue will decline throughout the forecast period, as other data services - made possible by the rollout of next generation networks - gain further traction.
In addition to continuing growth in traditional cellular messaging and infrastructure, Pakistan is going through a major roll-out of WiMax by several mobile operators. According to Fierce Broadband Wireless, the largest mobile WiMAX deployments reported during first-quarter 2008 were from Korea Telecom with nearly 150,000 subscribers and Wateen Telecom (Pakistan) with more than 10,000 subscribers at the end of that quarter. Wateen is today the largest mobile WiMAX Motorola deployment. In June 2006, Wateen placed an order for 198,000 CPEs from Motorola. Motorola has shipped 60,000 CPEs so far. Wateen has told Fierce that they had 25,000 subscribers by the end of June 2008. The operator expects to complete the order of 198,000 CPEs by this year. It is expected that the gap between mobile "16e" deployments and "16d" will narrow once trials of 16e equipment are complete and certified equipment becomes widely available.
In emerging markets, 3G and WiMAX will provide Internet connectivity to many consumers for the first time, partly due to a lack of viable fixed alternatives. Asia-Pacific will generate the highest mobile data revenue throughout the forecast period till 2012, and Africa and the Middle East will grow the fastest, according to Pyramid.
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The Punjab provincial government’s efforts so far include getting direct feedback from 3 million users of public services through SMS and providing field workers cost-effective smartphones to track their visits and collect data, including to monitor pests on crops, fighting dengue, and managing waste.
A recently-approved project will scale up these activities using innovative financing that emphasizes results, takes a multi-sectoral approach, and increases transparency and citizen access to information, improving citizen-state relations.
This model of innovative and sophisticated mobile governance is almost unprecedented in the public sector in developing countries, and represents one of the largest-scale attempts to hear from citizens to crack down on corrupt and poor performing officials.