Mobile operator Telenor Pakistan says it will apply for new operating concessions covering the Azad Kashmir and Northern regions of the country, in response to an invitation from the government to improve communications services in the areas. The licences will cost USD10 million, half of which will be paid up front and the remainder over the following ten years.
Telenor was awarded its GSM licence in April 2004 and in July that year it selected Nokia to build out its network, which includes the facility to upgrade to 3G based on W-CDMA technology. It launched commercial services on 15 March 2005 in Islamabad, Karachi and Rawalpindi, and on 24 March expanded to Lahore, Faisalabad and Hyderabad. In January 2006 Telenor Pakistan announced that it had signed up more than two million customers, less than a year after launching services. By the end of April 2006 it claimed to have coverage of 286 towns and cities, putting it well on track to meet its goal of covering 70% of the population by its fourth year of operation.