On Tuesday, Telenor Pakistan opened its GSM mobile network for commercial service. Pakistan’s President, General Pervez Musharraf, conducted the official opening by placing the first call through the network to Norway’s Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik. Telenor won its license to build and operate a mobile network in Pakistan in April 2004.
The opening of Telenor Pakistan’s mobile network, which took place on Tuesday 15 March, attracted great attention in Pakistan. More than 400 guests and a large number of journalists from both national and international media were present at the opening ceremony in Islamabad. Pakistan’s President, General Pervez Musharraf, conducted the actual opening of the network by placing a call to Norway’s Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, who was on a visit to Sidney, Australia.
This is the first time that Telenor as sole owner launches a mobile operation outside Norway. The commercial launch of the network took place less than a year after Telenor won its license on 14 April 2004. “We are pleased to be in operation at this early date, and plan to maintain a high tempo as we remain committed to providing coverage to 70 per cent of Pakistan’s population three years from now,” said Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas. “Today, the mobile penetration in Pakistan is low. We expect that the positive economic development that the country is undergoing at the moment will secure strong growth in the Pakistani mobile market in coming years, and we aim to be part of that growth,” said Baksaas, who attended the opening ceremony in Islamabad.
Telenor was one of two bidders to secure a mobile license in Pakistan in April 2004, and with these two new additions, Pakistan now counts six mobile operators. Telenor paid USD 291 million for its Pakistani mobile license and plan to invest an estimated USD 1 billion over a period of 6 to 8 years.
At the time of launch, Telenor Pakistan’s mobile network covers close to 20 million people in Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Karachi. By the end of March, coverage will be extended to include 32 million people. Pakistan has a population of 150 million people and the country’s mobile penetration is close to six per cent.