The broadband regime in Pakistan

Pakistan had its first broadband policy documented in 2001. According to that, the following implied the definition of broadband in the country:

 

 

Broadband in Pakistan will be defined as “Always on Internet connection with a download speed of at least 128kbps connectivity”. This download speed target will be subject to an increase as the bandwidth prices reduce, local content becomes available and there is a general increase in awareness of broadband.

 

 

The main objectives of the established Broadband policy were:

1. Spreading of an affordable, ‘always on,’ broadband high speed internet service in the corporate/commercial and residential sectors across Pakistan.

2. Encourage the entry and growth of new service providers while stimulating the growth of the existing ones at the same time.

3. Encourage private sector investment in local content generation and broadband service provision.

 

However, to date even with a supposed technological evolvement of the broadband sector of Pakistan, the penetration rate is quite low. There are multiple reasons for this. To have access to broadband, first and foremost a PC or a laptop is required and secondly a modem & connection. The cost of a PC starts at around $400 and is surely not in harmony with the average income per capita; therefore unless we increase the number of affordable devices the BB penetration will not take off. Secondly, the cost of the modem & flexible bandwidth connection will have to be brought down.

 

How are these hurdles to be overcome? The best anecdote is to have 3G introduced as a device which is less than USD 70 can not only provide voice but also broadband internet with thousand of non‐text application. It is projected that in Pakistan over 08 million 3G devices are working currently on Pakistan existing 2G networks. it remain a fact that unless 3G technology is introduced by the operators the BB Connectivity and subscriber base will remain quite minimal.

 

Apart from 3G introduction, the government shall continue to have a liberal policy for private sector facilitation by way of low or no licensing fee, low custom tariff on infrastructure and terminal devices in bringing internet bandwidth through multiple Optical Fiber Cable routes and 03rd party satellites. While, a separate Broadband policy document is not required as was done previously this policy item should importantly be highlighted in the same document as the Telecom Policy.

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  • The other reason for the low penetration rate is the dearth of local language content online.

  • New broadband policies and initiatives can create immediate economic and technology benefits. The major issue with current telecom policies is the lack of harmonization with (and advantages over) the technology policies of other IT hotspots. The following six steps can be undertaken now:

    1. Cease the C2B (or is it C2G) subsidization through bans on VoIP. In an era when VoIP is now a standard means of communicating within and between companies, leaving PK out in the cold on VoIP creates substantial economic damages for the entire economy.

    2. Cease the arbitrary capacity and performance caps on technologies such as DSL. Caps interfere with ROI and relationships between telecom companies and their customers. It stifles improvements in services and technologies. It hurts consumers and businesses.

    3. Extend the availability of sat-link backups for international voice lines beyond commercial call centres. Current limits ignore recent evolutions in commercial outsourcing and the vital role that reliable voice lines play in other sectors of the economy, such as banking, healthcare, export-oriented textiles and travel.

    4. Create pro-active and largely non-punitive approaches to enforcement of telecom policies as they apply to export-oriented PK ITeS companies operating in target markets. The current hear-no-evil, see-no-evil approaches by both industry and government are creating substantial liabilities and are damaging Pakistan’s reputation abroad. Your reputation is your most important asset. Your reputation is your brand. Protect it accordingly.

    5. Aggressive IT/telecom capacity building and modernization is needed immediately in export-oriented industries outside of IT/ITeS. A little government and private-sector support would go a long way towards increasing Pakistan’s exports within increasingly competitive and sophisticated SCM systems for which PK companies are largely ill-prepared and ill-equipped to participate in. The textile industry offers tremendous opportunities in this regard.

    6. Improved public literacy is needed in regard to basic telecom/IT principles. The basics of TCP/IP and HTML can and should be offered in all secondary schools. Network admin and sys admin can be taught too, for both closed and open-source systems. Last but not least, given the crucial role that intellectual property plays in the modern economy, all secondary students should receive some introduction to the subject. Corporate heads too.

  • wow , so much information to take in. I agree with antony

  • hi,

    The information is very useful! and i must say your writing style is very professional. don’t have time to read all the articles right now, but I have bookmarked the homepage and will return soon to read more. Got hold of your site while looking for something else on google.

    I myself m an IT Infrastructure Consultant with expertise in VoIP and Secured networks in Linux environment. Do feel free to visit my website http://www.itzeen.com

    Great work!

    Thanks
    Abeer.

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