wi-tribe (/ˈwˌtrb/ WYE-trybe) is an internet services provider (3G & 4.5G) in Pakistan. It operated in four major cities; Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, and Karachi until its license was revoked by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority because of frequent service interruption. As of 2021, the services have not been restored. wi-tribe is the first one in Pakistan to launch LTE-Advanced (4.5G) to users. The company shut down its services in Lahore after a major issue with the company (EDOTCO) managing its towers.[1] The reason for the scenario was a dispute between the companies which escalated after the departure of respected EDOTCO Group Ceo Suresh Sidhu - ostensibly, this was a dispute about a service-level-agreement and renegotiating of tower rentals as land-owner leases were running out and EDOTCO was negotiating in a manner which meant huge increases and premiums being demanded from wi-tribe. In this debacle, the deliberate powering off of wi-tribe base stations on EDOTCO towers was being weaponized by EDOTCO to gain commercial leverage in negotiations. This in turn led to payments being withheld by wi-tribe in retaliation. This subsequently led to the now-ousted EDOTCO Pakistan CEO Arif Hussain shutting down the towers in major cities leading to customers facing broadband blackouts.[2]

wi-tribe
TypePublic Limited Company
IndustryInternet Service Provider
FoundedApril of 2007
DefunctJul 2020 Lahore Mostly Areas
Headquarters
Islamabad
,
Pakistan
Key people
Hasan Bokhari, HB Group Founder & Chairman;

Shahid Malik, Chairman wi-tribe Board & President (2016-2019);

Abbas Bokhari, Chief Executive wi-tribe(2019-current);

Admiral Shahid Farooq, Chairman wi-tribe (2019-current);

Sajjad Hassan Jaffri, Group CFO (2020-current);

Sajid Malik, Chief Technology Officer (2013-2021);

Sheeraz Ahmed, Chief Commercial Officer (2017-2019);

Qaiser Rasheed, Chief Financial Officer (2015-2019).
ProductsLTE Advanced 4.5G Wi-Max Internet & Zoom EVDO
ParentHB Group, Pakistan
Websitewww.wi-tribe.pk

HistoryEdit

In 2009, the wi-tribe group, owned by Qatar Telecom (now Ooredoo) launched its largest operations in Pakistan. In Pakistan, wi-tribe is operating in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Rawalpindi.[1][2][3] Wi-tribe Pakistan is one of the only two telecoms in Pakistan that is an ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) approved employer.[4] Qatar Telecom invested in WiMAX technology which, was the leading technology at the time, and set up over 600 towers for base stations across its network at a cost close to $200 million USD.

HB Group's acquisition from Qatar TelecomEdit

In March 2016, wi-tribe was acquired by the HB Group from Ooredoo. This followed an Ooredoo Board decision to focus on its core telecoms business, which meant an exit from the Pakistan home broadband internet service provider market. The Citi Group advised and managed the sale of wi-tribe on behalf of Ooredoo.[1] Ooredoo had not invested in the upgrade of the network in recent years and its WiMAX technology was out of favor globally a significant upgrade was required both in bandwidth and in the capital costs of upgrading the base stations across over 600 towers. WiMAX is substantially now viewed as an end-of-life technology that only a handful of countries still operated.

Major bandwidth upgrade across Pakistan NetworkEdit

Within weeks of acquisition, it was clear that the significant congestion on the network was having a hugely detrimental effect on the customer experience, leading to high levels of dissatisfaction and churn and as such required a rapid solution. The previous owners, Ooredoo (formerly Qatar telecom) had been considering increasing capacity and easing congestion since 2014 but uncertainty about its future led to indecision. The investment requirement, coupled with the fact that it was solely a broadband business, made no long-term sense for the large mobile operator who no longer viewed it as part of its core business meaning that henceforth, it was not viewed as a viable investment proposition.

Inheriting huge difficulties, in the first month, the new management decided that an upgrade was crucial for survival and within three months they had invested heavily in improving its customer experience by doubling its spectrum bandwidth across Pakistan. By August 2016, the upgrade had been completed across all wi-tribe base station towers network in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s first 4.5G LTE advanced network launchedEdit

 In November 2016, the management considered investing in 4G LTE home broadband to upgrade its services to meet customer expectations for speed and capacity. The wi-tribe board later announced that it would skip a generation and instead of adopting 4G technology, it would shift to 4.5G LTE Advanced (LTE-A) technology. 

In February 2017, wi-tribe announced that it had signed a contract with Huawei to upgrade its entire network from WiMAX to an LTE-A (4.5G) network, the most advanced broadband technology in the world.  

This deployment represented the first such network in South Asia and the Middle East operating 4.5G LTE-A on the 3.5GHz spectrum (3500 MHz) band.[3] 

The new 4.5G LTE-A network was installed at wi-tribe's Head Office in F-8 Islamabad, using equipment from Huawei, with whom wi-tribe signed a $15 million USD contract and a strategic partnership for upgrade of wi-tribes network to LTE-A covering a possibility of five cities, namely Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore, and Faisalabad.[4] The network is currently undergoing large scale field tests having proven extremely successful in lab tests and will made available to the public in September 2017.[5] 

In September 2017, on schedule, wi-tribe launched its 4.5G LTE Advanced services in Pakistan. In October 2017, wi-tribe introduced Pakistan's first one terabyte package, which garnered much attention from local consumers. From 2018 wi-tribe rolled out its 4.5G LTE advanced network across Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi. 

The Pakistani President recognized the 4.5G achievement and awarded wi-tribe the Pakistan New Technology Innovation Award.[6] At the beginning of 2019 Abbas Bokhari, a veteran of the LDI industry, took over as the CEO.  

Veteran Naval Admiral Shahid Farooq took on the role of Chairman of wi-tribe following Shahid Malik departing to take on other challenges in January 2019. Admiral Farooq is a trusted and highly respected former Admiral and senior manager having previously had the Chairman role in the sector.

In 2020 Mr Sajjad Hasan Jaffri, a two-decade plus finance veteran, took over as the Group CFO with a focus on optimization across the group.

Acquisition of Qubee from PE Fund New Silk RouteEdit

  In late 2018 the HB Group acquired Qubee, a fellow broadband operator from US-based private equity fund New Silk Route. Qubee's network used WiMAX technology and HB's objective was to upgrade the technology and also create a business and corporate customer entity and shift the traditionally more challenging consumers to wi-tribe.[7]

First successful 5G  trials in PakistanEdit

In 2019, wi-tribe partnered with mobile operator Zong to complete the first successful first 5G trials in Pakistan[8] 

Regulatory Environment and 5GEdit

  Since 2019 the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority - Pakistan's regulator, has been conducting a review for 5G and the possible reconfiguration of the telecoms sector in the run-up to many licenses expiring in 2024. Wi-tribe has been keen to renew its license so that it could invest to upgrade the whole of the network to 5G, however, without certainty on the license and the payback period for the investment being 9 years it has been waiting for a positive outcome with just 4 years left on the current WLL license.


ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ http://wi-tribe.pk/network-breakdown-issue[dead link]
  2. ^ "Corporate Fail: EDOTCO Shuts Down wi-tribe's Entire Network For Not Paying Bills". 20 July 2020. Retrieved 2021-07-09.
  3. ^ "Pakistan to Get its First 4.5G LTE Advanced Network in Just Few Months". 2017-02-08. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
  4. ^ "Wi-tribe & Huawei collaborate to deliver advanced 4.5G LTE network in Pakistan". TechJuice. 2017-02-08. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
  5. ^ "Wi-tribe installs first-ever 4.5G LTE network in Pakistan". TechJuice. 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2017-05-02.
  6. ^ https://www.researchsnipers.com/wi-tribe-received-new-technology-innovation-award/. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Internet: Wi-tribe acquires Qubee – CustomsNews.pk Daily".
  8. ^ "'Pakistan on short list of 5G-ready countries with Zong's successful trial'". 22 August 2019.

External linksEdit