Industry Telecommunication
Genre Subsidiary
Fate License canceled
Founded 1991[1]
Defunct January 4, 2008 (License cancelled)
Headquarters Islamabad, Pakistan
Key people
Iain Williams, CEO
Products InstaXcite, InstaPhone Postpaid
Parent Millicom International Cellular (former), Afreen Group (present)

Instaphone was brand name of first ever cellular mobile communication services launched by M/s Pakcom Ltd., a telecommunications company in Pakistan and the pioneer of cellular industry in Pakistan. The company was jointly owned by M/s Arfeen and Millicom International (Luxemberg)and was acquired later by the Arfeen Group. In 1989, the Government of Pakistan awarded licences to cellular mobile operators. M/s Pakcom Ltd. and M/s Paktel Ltd. won the bids and were granted licences for 15 years. A third company ( M/s Pakistan mobile Telecommunication ltd) was also among the competitors however could not complete technical/financial proposal in time and had to stay away from competition for some times ( least they brought GSM system, an advanced digital system in 1994 with famous brand name of Mobilink.) The two companies raced to launch their cellular service and "Instaphone" won the race by few weeks, when they commercially launched their operation on 16 October 1990 with 3 Radio Base Stations located at WTC ( Khyaban e Jami, Clifton), PNSC building roof top, and at Pak Capitol exchange ( a PTCL exchange at University road, Karachi). The Cellular mobile exchange was located at penthouse on WTC building tower 1.This building is owned by M/s Arfeen, the partner in M/s Pakcom. Later next month the services were started in Islamabad with exchange and a radio base station at Blue area, a RBS at Daman-e-Koh, and one at State life building in Sadder, Rawalpindi. The CME (cellular mobile exchange of both operators was from Ericsson (Sweden) model AXE-10. Services at Peshawar were started in April 1991 with RBS at roof top of State life building,Sadder, Peshawar cant, and later at Quetta with RBS at PTCL exchange at Mall road and at Brewery road.The Quetta was satellite of Karachi exchange linked via PTCL network, and Peshawar was satellite of Islamabad exchange again linked via PTCL network. The nature of billing was post paid with Rs.5000/- as initial deposit, the Call data was stored on magnetic tapes, sent to UK for printing of bills and bills were then sent to the customers for settling their bills, hence the turn around time was in excess of 45 days. This resulted in non payments from many defaulters who fled away after using and making heavy bills. The call rate was Rs.4/- per minute for local calls charged to both (caller and responder). Such unpaid billing was Rs. 25 Million approx in June 1993.f

The company's license was cancelled by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in January 2008 for unpaid fees.[2]

Market share

Before the company's license was canceled, It was ranked at the bottom in terms of market share.

Revenue, millions PKR.[3]
2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07
3,196 2,693 1,539 472

Cancellation of license

The company's license was cancelled by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority in January 2008 for unpaid license renewal fees totalling $291 million.[2]

Instaphone appealed the decision before the Islamabad High Court, and filed a writ petition challenging the national Mobile Cellular Policy of 2004.[4] Both actions were dismissed by the Islamabad High Court on April 14, 2009. The court extended the deadline for payment of the outstanding license fees to 6 May 2009.[5]

Technology migration strategy

Instaphone had a unique migration strategy between Analog service in the 1980s to the final GSM network. Due to a lack of telephone number porting laws in Pakistan, Instaphone kept a large TDMA network throughout the 1990s up until the middle of this decade. Due to this rare TDMA presence in the middle of Asia which was majority GSM, Pakistan was flooded with unlocked American and Canadian TDMA cellphones for sale to many of the Instaphone customers who were mostly business users at the time and could not afford losing their established telephone numbers.

TDMA grey market phones

Many of the North American standard TDMA phones showed up on the piers in Dubai en route to Pakistan for sale, usually bonded by third parties that had satellite offices in the city. The majority of these North American phones were sold on the grey market supposedly laundering money for the Indian mafia. Hundreds of Pakistani immigrants across North America tried to take part in this opportunity and many lost their life savings. The average shipment was approximately $30,000 USD of cellphones and fraudulent letters of credit were given. Most were never paid for the shipment. Within the next decade, Instaphone was declared bankrupt.

See also


  1. Instaphone - About us
  2. 1 2 "PTA Cancels Instaphone License". Green & White. January 5, 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  3. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority
  4. Instaphone Appeal dismissed by Islamabad Highcourt. Retrieved 15 April 2009.
  5. "Cellular co's appeal dismissed". The Nation. Retrieved April 15, 2009.

External links

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