Attendants stand in front of the logo of China Mobile at a venue for the launch of Xiaomi's new smartphone in Beijing. [Photo/Agencies]
China Mobile Communications Corp, the world's largest telecom carrier by subscribers, will invest $200 million in Pakistan this year to expand its presence.
The Beijing-based company confirmed to China Daily on Thursday that it will expand its Pakistani network by adding 3G and 4G sites, taking the overall tally to more than 10,000 sites by the end of 2017.
China Mobile's Pakistan branch, also known as Zong, has pumped $2.1 billion into the country. As of 2016, it had about 6,000 4G sites.
"We intend to expand 4G coverage, not only to urban but also rural areas via additional investment and network expansion," the company said.
China Mobile started its operations in Pakistan in April 2008. At the end of last year, Zong's 4G subscribers had reached 2 million.
Xiang Ligang, a telecoms expert and CEO of the telecom industry website cctime.com, said Pakistan is one of the overseas markets where China Mobile has obtained 3G and 4G licenses.
"China Mobile's investment in Pakistan has a strong symbolic meaning. It is a testing field for Chinese telecoms carriers' overseas expansion, where they can accumulate experience," Xiang added.
Fu Liang, an independent telecoms expert, said: "Pakistan is a promising market. It has a big population and local consumers desire better telecom services."
Pakistan has more than 140 million mobile subscribers.
Cheng Yu contributed to this story.