Figures compiled by the Pakistan Telecommunications Agency (PTA) show that at the end of October 2006 there were 1.37 million wireless in the local loop (WiLL) subscribers in the country, an increase of 343,771 in four months. An unnamed official from the PTA was quoted by The International News as saying that the growth in WiLL subscribers was triggered by the improved services of the operators, adding that the numbers are expected to continue to increase at a similar rate in 2007. PTCL claimed the highest number of WiLL subscribers, with 867,238, followed by local telco TeleCard with 289,124. Worldcall, which operates mainly in the Punjab region, served 179,228 WiLL users, while Great Bear had 36,049.
Following telecom deregulation in 2003, the PTA issued licences to private operators to introduce conventional fixed line and WiLL services across the country, ending PTCL’s monopoly. The telecoms regulator has since issued some 84 licences to 36 companies for fixed line local loop (FLL) services and 90 licences to 15 companies for WiLL service. Twelve long distance international (LDI) licences were also granted.