Supernet CEO: Pakistan’s Enterprise Market to Drive Growth Over the Next Year

By | September 27, 2010 | Feature, Telecom

[Satellite News 09-27-10] Pakistani service provider Supernet is seeing tremendous growth across its business driven by a healthy cellular backhaul market in the region, Supernet CEO Imran Malik told Satellite News.
    According to Malik, opportunities are beginning to emerge for satellite-based services in various enterprises in Pakistan, including its banking sector. “The next twelve months look really good as well. We have a rather full order book. The main opportunities are GSM backhaul services, as well as VSAT networks for banks. Three of the larger banks have RFPs out for VSAT networks for deployment this year.”
    Supernet has been working to build out its network capabilities with the launch of its third VSAT hub and the completion of its nationwide MPLS fiber backbone on the horizon. “In 2010 so far we have already signed up for 118 MHz more in standard C and Ku-band capacity on various satellites. We can use more Ku-band capacity but it is very hard to find,” said Malik.
    Pakistan’s satellite sector may see even further growth opportunities, as the country’s regulatory regime is poised for a change, Malik said. “There is quite a bit of debate on who can be a VSAT service provider. We are also seeing the big telcos coming into this field as well. In the absence of a strong competition commission the new entrants are going all out to buy market share. Since we have a significant portion of the market, our focus is on retaining our customers in Pakistan. We are also looking at our neighborhood for growth. We have started providing services in the neighboring countries. We have customers in Central Asia.”
    Malik said his company also has taken a more progressive approach to Ka-band and believes that broadband services have great potential in Pakistan. “The first reason is geography. Fiber is not getting into the really remote areas. Similarly, the terrestrial broadband networks (WiMAX) are restricted to the bigger cities only. The telecom infrastructure in the remote areas is designed primarily for basic telephony service. The replacement satellite Paksat-1R does not have a Ka-band payload. I don’t think the government of Pakistan fully realizes the potential of Ka-band broadband services. In my opinion, such a service can play a major role in uplifting the socio-economic conditions of the majority of the rural population. The only planned Ka-band service for Pakistan is from UAE based YahSat. Their service, Yahclick, will be available in 2012.”
    Pakistan was recently blighted by some of the worst floods the country has ever seen. The floods could lead to some telecoms and satellite based projects being delayed, according to Malik. “The projects that are in the deployment phase will continue. However, these on-going projects may not see expansion during this fiscal year. Similarly, the on-going services i.e. current customers will continue. The floods are bound to have an adverse impact on the economy. In my opinion some of the new public sector projects that were likely to be implemented in fiscal year 2010-11 will definitely get delayed,” comments Malik.
    While Supernet works to grow its business, competition is beginning to heat up in Pakistan, as the biggest challenge for regional companies is retaining customers. Even Pakistan’s ex-state owned telecom monopoly has started providing data communications services to the corporate customers. “They are trying to buy market share by offering very low prices. This is eroding the industry profit. With our strong focus on customer service and our sixteen year experience in the filed we hope to retain our dominant position with our profitability intact,” Malik said.
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