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Wi-tribe launches wireless broadband service in Pakistan

Qtel backed company announces launch of WiMAX internet service in Pakistan

Dr. Nasser Marafih said Pakistan has huge potential for broadband services.
Dr. Nasser Marafih said Pakistan has huge potential for broadband services.

Wi-tribe, a wireless internet provider backed by Qatar’s Qtel Group, has launched a wireless broadband service in Pakistan. The deployment, which uses WiMAX technology from Motorola, covers major cities of Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, and Rawalpindi.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani, chairman of Qtel Group, said the launch, which is Wi-tribe’s biggest project to date, marks an important stage in the company’s aim to become a top 20 telecom player by 2020.

“Following our launch in Jordan, Pakistan marks a major stepping stone towards our expansion strategy and our intention to leverage the scale and strengths of the Qtel Group in order to deliver the latest technologies to our customers,” he said.

Dr Nasser Marafih, CEO Qtel, added that broadband represents a “major pillar of growth” for the company, particularly in markets which have low broadband penetration rates, such as Jordan and Pakistan.

“Broadband penetration levels in new emerging markets are currently very low compared to markets in the region. However, consumer demand for wireless services is growing at a fast pace. So we will continue to focus on this area in the future as we see good business opportunity and significant growth potential,” he said.

While Pakistan already has about 50 ISPs, services are limited outside metropolitan areas. Access to high speed broadband and mobile broadband is also limited.

As of February 2008, Pakistan had about 100,000 broadband users, although the government has set itself a target to increase this number to 1.6 million by 2010.

Qtel entered Pakistan in April 2007 when it acquired a 75% stake in wireless telecoms operator Burraq Telecom, in a joint deal with and Saudi Arabia's A.A. Turki for Trading and Contracting.