Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pakistan SMS Usage Growth Highest in Asia Pacific

In addition to being 4th heaviest user country of SMS, yapping Pakistanis have taken an unusual lead in telecommunication: the largest text messaging growth in Asia Pacific. With Pakistan's 763 million messages sent during the "festive seasons", 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). In terms of year-on-year growth, Pakistan SMS Text traffic volume grew by 253 percent compared to last year during the same period. Other markets that experienced high messaging growth include Philippines (65 percent), Australia (57 percent), Indonesia (27 percent) and Malaysia (13 percent). "MMS traffic is bound to increase as consumers become increasingly savvy in interacting with their personal blog sites and applications such as Facebook".

SMS has always been popular with Pakistani users and the recent data from PTA provides evidence to this. During the year 2007-08, cellular mobile operators generated more than 25 billion SMS. One reason for this growth is that a majority of user base in Pakistan is young and they prefer to communicate via SMS. On Eid and other celebrations, it is now common (default?) practice to send and receive greetings through text messaging. Text messaging also allows people to be more creative, though the SMS may not always be original. Mostly it is a chain of forwarded messages. There is spam SMS as well, which remains an unsolved problem.

All cellular mobile operators have competed aggressively for SMS and that has resulted in a price war, eroding the ARPU but increasing adoption and volume. The mobile operators offered lucrative SMS deals including special one-time buckets of messages for nominal charges. For instance, Telenor launched SMS Fulltime offer for its prepaid customers in which its subscribers can send up to 10,000 on-net SMS with charge of Rs. 99. Telenor even offered free SMS for those who are on Hajj. There are some packages with a catch as well - such as the Aik Pasa SMS: you pay 1 paisa but the receiver is charged 1 Re.

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