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Basics Edit

Pakistan has 4 mobile GSM operators:

  • Jazz (merged former Mobilink and Warid)
  • Telenor
  • Zong (by CMPak)
  • Ufone
Greylist

Mobilink and Warid agreed to a merger that has been finalized in 2016. This is completed by Q2/2017 and a new market leader called Jazz was created.

The PTCL (Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd.) is the former state-owned and now semi-privatised incumbent provider. In 2018 they have upgraded their fixed-wireless TD-LTE network, marketed by as "CharJi 4G LTE" in Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. They use the 1900 MHz frequency for TD-LTE on band 35 and 36. As part of the development, its legacy ‘3G EVO’ service, which uses CDMA and EVDO technology is switched off.

The mobile providers use these frequency bands:

Provider 2G GSM 3G UMTS 4G LTE
Jazz 900, 1800 MHz 2100 MHz 1800 MHz (3)
Telenor 900, 1800 MHz 850, 2100 MHz 850, 1800 MHz (3,5)
Zong 900, 1800 MHz 2100 MHz 1800 MHz (3)
Ufone 900, 1800 MHz 900, 2100 MHz n./a.
PTCL n./a. closed down 1900 MHz (35/36)

Coverage and speed Edit

Mobile internet in Pakistan used to be painfully slow. Up to 2014 only 2G with EDGE was available. Internet cafes have been often equally slow and not widely available outside tourist locations. In April 2014 frequencies for 3G and 4G were auctioned. Since then the mobile operators are quickly building up high speed networks throughout the country. Mobilink and Telenor are already covering some hundred cities with 3G, while Zong and Warid concentrate on 4G/LTE in major towns only.

Coverage on the countryside and in the mountainous areas in the north, where many visitors are likely to travel, is still poor. Sometimes when there's no signal, villagers will know of a "mobile point", a specific spot nearby that happens to have a signal from one or more networks. That's why many Pakistanis carry SIMs from more than one network.

Things have improved since as 4G/LTE is accessible by about half the population at an average speed of 12 Mbit/s according to OpenSignal in 2017.

Regulations Edit

After the 2014 terrorist attacks, the Pakistani governement severely tightened SIM card registration rules in the country. All 100 million SIM cards now have to registered biometrically. This process led to long lines in the shops of the operators and is still going on in 2015.

Foreigners can buy prepaid SIM cards in the country showing their passport (and visa) documents in an operator's shop. They will copy your documents, take a picture of you (or you provide one) and take fingerprints on a scanner. Be prepared to wait for quite a while as Pakistan has one of the tightest SIM registration schemes in the world. You might also need to call the operator or will be called to verifiy your data and identity.

SIM cards are now being sold and activated only after the National Database and Registration Authority verifies the purchaser’s biometrics (thumb and finger impressions) online. Some 70,000 biometric devices have been installed at sale points of cellular mobile operators. A re-verification project was done in 2015, which required all mobile customers to confirm their identity with their mobile provider via biometric verification – in this case a thumbprint scan. They chose to reinforce its SIM registration procedures after an attack on a school in Peshawar in 2014 revealed that phones used in the attack had used fraudulently verified SIMs. Another tightening of laws in 2016 threatens fines for those, who don't register SIM cards properly with up to 3 years in prison or up to Rs. 500,000.

A SIM card will be deactivated after 180 days of non-usage. The Propakistani website gives an excellent survey of the latest updates in the country. There you can find listings of some more 3G/4G offers based on package sizes and additional data-only options for modems. Many information in this article are taken from this valuable source.

From 2017 the regulator now requires all devices that are brought from outside Pakistan that use a local SIM card to register their IMEI numbers on the DIRBS or the device will blocked on the network after 15 days. This is a whitelist run by the PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority). To know your IMEI number, type *#06#.

Foreign visitors and nationals can use this website available here: https://dirbs.pta.gov.pk. It's not possible to register with the provider, but you need to register with the PTA only. Because of these additional procedures and the strict biometric registration methods, this country is greylisted now.

One person can register up to 5 devices per year. Once registered, you will receive a certificate of conformity indicating that the device is added to the whitelist of approved devices. Usually this certificates is issued within 24 hours of application. This doesn't apply to users with a foreign SIM card roaming in Pakistan.

Jazz (merged from Mobilink and Warid) Edit

Jazz
Former Mobilink controlled by Russian Vimpelcom used to be market leader in the country. It has the widest coverage in 2G up to EDGE, but seems to be losing the race for 3G to Telenor. In 2016, it covers 350 cities with 3G so far, listed here: click on 3G coverage area.

In 2016/7 they merged with Warid and adopted Warid's 4G network and offer their 4G/LTE to all of their customers as a single brand. In 2017 they received an own license for 4G on 1800 MHz (band 3). Most of their prepaid products are now marketed under the new Jazz label. The brands Mobilink and Warid have disappeared. They joint company has now about 38% of all users in the country.

Availability Edit

Their SIM cards are available in their shops (locator) for a minimal price. You need to visit nearest Jazz Service Center or retail point, elect any number of your choice from the pool, verify through biometric system and your number will be activated immediately.

To activate 3G service on your prepaid SIM, you may need to dial *443*3# or text "SUB" on 7003. They offer different plans, but no data is included. Check balance, by *111#.

Effective 2017 all Mobilink, Jazz and Warid vouchers are interchangeable for top-ups.

Data feature packages Edit

Jazz has these packages below for 4G, 3G (and 2G) available. Default rate outside packages and for overuse is Rs. 2.39 per MB.

Package Data Validity Price Subscription
Internet Hourly 2 GB 2 hours Rs. 17 *846#
Daily Browser 50 MB 24 hours Rs. 10 *117*11#
Daily Social 200 MB for FB, WA Rs. 5 *114*5#
Daily Data 1.1 GB (2am-2pm) Rs. 20 *117*4#
3 Day Extreme 500 MB (2am-2pm) 3 days Rs. 15 *114*14#
Weekly Browser 300 MB 7 days Rs. 50 *117*3#
Weekly Streamer 750 MB Rs. 80 *117*7#
Weekly Premium 2 GB Rs. 110 *117*47#
Weekly Extreme 2.5 GB (2am-2pm) Rs. 60 *117*14#
Weekly Mega 4 GB Rs. 160 *159*2#
Weekly Mega Plus 8 GB Rs. 200 *453*2#
Monthly Browser 2.1 GB 30 days Rs. 160 *117*77#
Monthly Extreme 5 GB (2am-2pm) Rs. 100 *117*34#
Monthly Mega Plus 7.5 GB Rs. 500 *117*30#
Monthly Supreme 12 GB Rs. 800 *117*32#

Additiional taxes of 17.5-19% apply in some states. Bundles won't auto-renew and have to be subscribed again. Overage of Rs.0.30 per MB applies for all bundles. To check data balance for free, type subscription code ending by *2#, e.g. *117*1*2#.

For social media they offer:

  • 10 MB for WhatsApp and 1,800 SMS for a day: Rs. 6 - activation: *334#
  • 25 MB for WhatsApp and 1,000 SMS for a week: Rs. 15 - activation: *101*1*07#
  • 5 GB for WhatsApp and 12,000 SMS for a month: Rs. 60 - activation: *101*1*02#

Data-only SIM Edit

For their data SIM they offer these monthly bundles:

  • 15 GB: Rs. 999 - activation: *117*71#
  • 36 GB: Rs. 1500 - activation: *117*73#
  • 75 GB: Rs. 2500 - activation: *117*74#

To check status, add *2# at the end of the activation code. All packages auto-renew, to stop enter *4# at the end.

More info Edit

Telenor Edit

Telenor

Telenor from Norway is the 2nd provider in Pakistan with 29% of the users. While its 2G network is not so widespread in the countryside as Mobilink's, Telenor is faster in building up a 3G network. In 2016, they cover more than 250 towns in 3G/HSPA speed and are adding more places.

They have the most 3G customers in the country right now, but they are still limited to towns: 3G/4G coverage map4G/LTE started in August 2016 in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar and Sawaton on 850 MHz (band 5) and has spread to other major towns.

Availability Edit

Their prepaid packages are called "Talkshawk" or the youth-oriented "djuice". They are available for a minimal fee in their sales & service centers: where-to-buy.

3G doesn't need to be activated. Usage without subscribing to bundles will be charged at 10 Paisa (incl. tax) per 10 KB. After Rs. 50 of daily charging on default rate further usage will be completely free for the rest of the day.

For 4G/LTE you need a require a compatible handset and 4G SIM; Telenor is offering to replace customers’ existing SIMs for 4G SIM cards for free at its retail outlets.

Data feature packages Edit

Default rate usage without subscribing to bundles will be charged at Rs. 0.75 per 64 kB. They offer these packs on 3G and 4G:

Data Time Price Remarks Activation
500 MB 1 hour Rs. 8 *60#
50 MB 1 day Rs. 12 *12#
350 MB Rs. 16 1am-7pm *10#
200 MB 3 days Rs. 42 +200 MB FB *32#
750 MB 7 days Rs. 75 *72#
2.5 GB Rs. 85 1am-7pm *345*144#
2 GB 30 days Rs. 170 +1GB Goonj *301#
6 GB Rs. 500 *303#
10 GB Rs. 750 *345*136#

Taxes are included. Overuse will be charged at the default rate.

Data-only SIM Edit

Telenor sells a data only SIM called Telenor 3G Connect. Together with a 3G dongle it includes 2 months of internet and 20 GB per month for Rs. 2,200. To activate, type *345*4005#.

You can use your existing Telenor prepaid SIM with the Connect too after migrating it to a data package, which you can do so by dialing code *345*4006#. Once migrated, voice calls will be blocked on that SIM and you can add a package on 3G for 30 days:

  • 4 GB: Rs. 500 - activation: *345*2001#
  • 10 GB: Rs. 750 - activation: *345*2002#
  • 25 GB: Rs. 1,500 - activation: *345*1001#
  • 55 GB: Rs. 2,200 - activation: *345*1002#
  • 100 GB: Rs. 3,800 - activation: *345*1003#
  • 4 GB for 3 months each = 12 GB: Rs.: 1,000 - activation: *345*2003#

Check your remaining data and its validity by dialing *999# for Rs. 0.24 inclusive of tax.

More info Edit

ZongEdit

Zong new

new logo

Zong in Pakistan is owned by China Mobile Pakistan (CMPak). It has become the 3rd network now with 19% of the users. It has a limited network on 3G so far in many towns but started in 2014 with 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz (band 3) in the centers of 7 major cites. 3G/4G coverage-map.Zong’s 4G network has coverage of more than 300 towns and cities, and served a total of 2.3 million 4G subscribers in 2017 giving it the highest share of 3G/4G users in the country even in font of Jazz.

AvailabilityEdit

A Zong SIM can be purchased for 500 Rs, which includes 300 Rs call credit in their stores: customer service centers. For 4G/LTE you need a special 4G SIM card.

Data feature packsEdit

Out of bundle rate is Rs.1 per Mb. Zong offers these packages on 2G, 3G and 4G for the same price, where available:

Package Volume Time Price
Daily Basic 100 MB 1 day Rs. 15
Daily Data Max 500 MB Rs. 35
Super Weekly 2 GB 7 days Rs. 100
Super Weekly Plus 4 GB Rs. 130
Super Weekly Max 10 GB* Rs. 200
Monthly Mini 150 150 MB 30 days Rs. 50
Monthly Basic 500 500 MB Rs. 150
Monthly Premium 3GB 3 GB Rs. 300
Monthly Premium 12GB 12 GB** Rs. 717

(*) = 5 GB all time and 5 GB 4am-4pm, (**) = 12 GB + free nights (FUP: 1 GB/night, 1am-9am)

For social media they offer these packages:

  • 100 MB WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter for a day: Rs. 10
  • 50 MB Facebook only for a day: Rs. 5

Prices are without taxes. 17%-19.5% come on top depending on province. Dial *6464# for activation menu or visit their website. To check data balance, type *102#. If you your bundle expires, the user’s mobile internet speed will be reduced to 256 kbps and charges of Rp.1 per MB will be applicable. You can buy Add-ons at Rs.10 for 100 MB extra by texting 'ba' to 6464. All packages auto-renew.

More infoEdit

Ufone Edit

Ufone

Ufone by Pak Telecom Mobile Ltd. (PTML) is the 4rd operator in the country with a 15% share. It started with 3G in 2014 on 2100 MHz and now new on 900 MHz as well and covers around 60 cities in 2016 so far: 3G Coverage. There is no 4G/LTE yet.

Availability Edit

Their prepaid packages are called "Talkshawk" and are available for a minimal fee in their sales & service centers: where-to-buy.

You may need to activate 3G service by typing *7701#.

Data feature packages Edit

Default tariff is Rs. 20 for the first MB and the user gets next 19 MB free, then gets charged for the 21st MB and gets the next 19 MB free and so on. They have a big variety of packages for 3G available:

Package Volume Time Price Extras Activation
Daily Light 40 MB 1 day PKR 10 Apps *2256#
Daily Heavy 75 MB PKR 15 Apps *2258#
Daily (1am-9pm) 50 MB PKR 5 Apps *3461#
Night (1am-8am) 2 GB PKR 12 *550#
3-day bucket 100 MB 3 days PKR 25 Apps *3350#
Weekly Light 250 MB 7 days PKR 50 Apps *7811#
Weekly Heavy 500 MB PKR 125 Apps *7815#
Super Internet 1 GB PKR 100 *220#
Monthly Light 1 GB 30 days PKR 250 Apps *7807#
Monthly Heavy 3 GB PKR 500 Apps *803#
Monthly Max 10 GB PKR 1000 Apps *5100#

To activate type *3# and choose package. Dial *706# to check the remaining balance of the buckets. At the bundles marked with apps, Facebook, Line, WhatsApp and Twitter consumption is not debited from the data allowance. For social media they have these bundles:

  • 100 MB Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp for a day: PKR 5, activation: *4422#
  • Unlimited WhatsApp + 10,000 SMS for a day: PKR 5, activation: *3464#
  • Unlimited Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp for a month: PKR 50, activation: *5858#

More info Edit