Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Internet Data Usage Soaring in Pakistan

Soaring broadband subscriptions in Pakistan have helped drive a whopping 35X increase in Internet data usage since January 2014.

Rapid Rise in Broadband Subscription in Pakistan

As the number of broadband subscriptions in Pakistan crossed 38 million in October 2016,  the internet data usage jumped from 1,243 terabytes in January 2014 to 45,672 terabytes in September, 2016, according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

A lot of new data traffic is being driven by 3G/4G equipped smartphones running a variety of applications ranging from social media to consumer and business apps.


Mobile Broadband:

Mobile broadband (3G/4G) subscriptions have jumped from almost zero in 2014 to 34 million as of September, 2016.  It has been accompanied by corresponding increase in the number of smartphones which is expected to cross 40 million mark this year.

Applications:

Growth of 3G/4G networks and smartphones has spawned a variety of applications from social media apps to business, education and entertainment apps. Use of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube has soared.  E-commerce is growing. Taxi-hailing service Uber has arrived in the country. Netflix has entered the Pakistani market. Government is making use of the Internet applications to deliver services.

Digital Cable, DTH:

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) is pushing all cable service providers to support digital television. PEMRA is also auctioning Direct-to-Home (DTH) service which is digital. Both of these mediums will help increase internet broadband penetration in the country and bring more and more people on line.

Internet Infrastructure:

Rapid growth of data is driving infrastructure improvements in Pakistan. Tens of thousands of kilometers of fiber is being laid to cope with rising Internet traffic.  Universal Service Fund (USF) alone has installed 5,500 kilometers of fiber in underserved areas of the country to increase digital inclusion.

Pakistan currently has 16 data centers: 8 in Karachi, 5 in Lahore and 3 in Islamabad. The numbers are expected to grow significantly with growing demand.

Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has set up the first Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Islamabad and more are planned for other major cities. IXPs connect Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) like Amazon and Akamai to facilitate faster delivery of web pages and other content to users.

Digital Inclusion:

Beginning in October 2016,  Pakistani government is giving away five million smartphones to farmers in the country in an effort to improve knowledge of modern farming techniques, according to the BBC. Large numbers of farmers in countries such as India and Kenya have also recently experimented with smartphone technology.

In addition, the Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) has announced plans to give away 30,000 smartphones with 3G subscriptions funded by Universal Service Fund (USF) to low income Pakistanis on BISP.  Each smartphone will have Rs. 250 balance per month. It is intended to enhance digital and financial inclusion, according to a report in Pakistan Observer.

The objective of giving away smartphones is to help increase farmers' productivity.  Digital access is is expected to reduce poverty in rural and semi-urban areas of Pakistan by supporting micro and small enterprises. Market access to the products of marginalized segments will improve their welfare and at the same time boost the national economy.

Lack of financial inclusion and the growing digital divide are known impediments to progress of the low-income and poor segments of the population. Any effort by the government to remove such impediments will help Pakistan's economy by making more people more productive.

 Summary:

Internet data usage is soaring with rapidly rising broadband penetration and smartphone ownership in Pakistan. Infrastructure is being improved to cater to the digital data explosion taking place in the country. Universal Service Fund (USF) is playing its part to support this effort in underserved areas.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Bridging Digital Divide in Pakistan

Fiber Connectivity in Pakistan

Pakistan Government Apps

Data Boom in Pakistan

Pakistan 2.0: Technology Driving Productivity

Uber in Pakistan

E-Commerce in Pakistan

6 comments:

Majumdar said...

Digital connectivity is the way to go. That is what ModiGee is also trying in India. Lets hope Indo-Pak both sides make a success of it, it cud help us leapfrog into the next generation.

And Brof sb, as a pioneer in IT/Telecom, it cud earn you all the sawab you need in this life for the 72 in your next life! (May that happen after you have jiyo-ed hazaron saal, saal ke din ho pachaas hazaar)

Regards

Riaz Haq said...

Xiaomi #smartphone is officially coming to #Pakistan as #PTA grants approval http://bit.ly/2g1qGNy via @techjuicepk

Xiaomi is now officially permitted to sell its smartphones in Pakistan after gaining approval from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). Xiaomi Pakistan made the announcement on their Facebook page,

“Finally, Day has come. We have got approval from PTA now we will soon launch our product line in Pakistan. Cheers Fans.”

Prior to the availability of Xiaomi smartphones through CheezMall, they were being sold illegally in Pakistan. At one point, PTA even banned the brand in Pakistan because it didn’t fulfill the legal requirements.

A PTA spokesperson told ProPakistani that the company has obtained non-objection certificate (NOC) from PTA to start its operations in Pakistan as per government requirements. Xiaomi also cleared National Telecommunication and Information Technology Security Board (NTISB) test.

Initially, PTA has granted the approval for the launch of Xiaomi Mi Max and Xiaomi Mi 5 in Pakistan. Also, it’s confirmed that Xiaomi will not make the distribution through CheezMall this time.

Xiaomi smartphones along with other accessories like power banks, chargers, MI VR etc., will be available for purchase in Pakistan.

Xiaomi is Chinese electronics company and world’s 4th largest smartphones manufacturer. It started its service in Pakistan earlier this year through CheezMall, an online shopping website of Pakistan which offers electronic, mobile and sports accessories.

An official announcement about the launch and selling price is expected in a few days.

Riaz Haq said...

#Netflix to launch streaming of popular #Pakistan TV plays

http://tribune.com.pk/story/1266895/netflix-launches-first-ever-pakistani-dramas/

Streaming pioneer Netflix has finally launched Pakistani drama serials.

Netflix members will now be able to watch Humsafar, Zindagi Gulzaar Hay and Sadqay Tumhare on the global streaming service.

Pakistani cinema owners all set to lift self-imposed ban on Indian films

“Netflix California portal picks and launches its first ever Pakistani drama serials Humsafar, Zindagi Gulzaar hay and Sadqay Tumharay. Big milestone for Pakistan digital industry. Congratulations Team Humsafar, Team Zindagi gulzar hay and Team Sadqay Tumharay,” director Momina Durraid wrote on Facebook.

The television giant launched in Pakistan in January this year.

California-based Netflix, which began as a mail-order DVD service but is now producing award-winning original content alongside its offering of older shows and movies, launched in 2007. Now, 70 million subscribers pay a monthly fee for unlimited service.

Television giant Netflix comes to Pakistan

The company has been shifting from recycling old shows and movies to producing more original content, with its shows such as the award-winning “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.” However, availability of original content could differ from country to country due to local licensing deals.

Riaz Haq said...

SEA-ME-WE 5 Consortium,with Transworld Associates #Pakistan, builds 20,000-km subsea fiber sys http://www.rcrwireless.com/20161219/network-infrastructure/20161219network-infrastructure20161219network-infrastructuresubsea-fiber-system-tag23 … via @rcrwirelessnews

The fiber system connects countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Western Europe

The SEA-ME-WE 5 Consortium completed deployment of a 20,000-kilometer subsea fiber infrastructure developed by a 16-nation consortium.

The system is designed with 24 terabits per second of capacity on three-fiber pairs, said it be capable of accommodating data demand from bandwidth-intensive applications such as enterprise data exchange, internet TV and online gaming. The consortium noted the cable’s main endpoints are carrier-neutral/open points-of-presence connecting Singapore with Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Oman, the United Arab Republic, Qatar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Egypt, Turkey, Italy and France.

“The completion of the SE-ME-WE 5 project is a landmark system upgrade for all data users worldwide. This system facilitates a new age of digital transformation and innovation, catalyzing greater economic activities, trade and growth across three continents,” said Linette Lee, chairperson of the SEA-ME-WE 5 Consortium Management Committee.

Consortium members include Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company, China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, China United Network Communications Group Company, Djibouti Telecom, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, Myanmar Post and Telecom, Ooredoo, Orange, PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia International, Saudi Telecom Company, Singapore Telecommunications, Sparkle, Sri Lanka Telecom PLC, Telecom Egypt, Telekom Malaysia Berhad, TeleYemen, Turk Telekom International and Trans World Associates Limited Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Growth of #Internet & #SocialMedia Spawning Many Tweeting politicians in #Pakistan

http://www.dawn.com/news/1307259/tweeting-politicians

Twitter has been in existence since 2006; users can sign up for accounts in their real names or anonymously, and post short messages of 140 characters. In 10 short years, it has become the place for much political movement, first grass-roots actions like communication and organisation, as well as information dissemination. The Atlantic states: “Twitter has grown into a force that has bolstered grass-roots conversations, disrupted the top-down nature of political leadership and thought, and has given voice to groups long hidden on the political periphery.”

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In Pakistan, Twitter was slow to catch on at first, and still remains a tool of the somewhat elite and educated, the first people to gain access to the internet. But with the boom in cheap smartphones (13.5 million subscriptions to mobile broadband in 2015) and the advent of 3G in the country, 17.2m Facebook accounts and 280m connections to Twitter a day, Pakistani officials and political parties knew they had to join the trend or risk irrelevance.

As the site ProPakistani writes, the last three or so years has seen a proliferation of government officials and agencies take to Twitter and Facebook in order to announce their activities, solicit public feedback, and deliver pro-social messages to the Pakistani public. The Pakistan Army’s ISPR uses Twitter to make announcements about security situations and progress in national emergencies. Diplomats and bureaucrats are not up to speed yet with Twitter or Facebook, and while most Pakistani embassies around the world have official Twitter accounts, they aren’t very active.

On the other hand, Pakistani politicians have taken to Twitter like gasoline on a fire. Some of the most popular Twitter accounts belong to leaders like Imran Khan, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Maryam Nawaz Sharif, who spend much of their time tweeting allegations at each other. Mavericks like Sheikh Rasheed and stalwarts like Dr Arif Alvi lend their personalities to their Twitter accounts, using Urdu and English to raise chuckles and deliver sober accountability respectively. It’s a lively arena with ordinary Pakistanis forming breathless fan clubs and fighting with each other in the hopes that their favourite politician-cum-celebrity will favour them with a ‘retweet’ or a ‘like’.

But our politicians and government representatives must bear in mind the weight of their office and their responsibility to the people when composing a tweet. Take the example of Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, who on Dec 23, 2016, reminded Israel of Pakistan’s nuclear ability in a tweet. He reacted to fake news that suggested Pakistan would send ground troops to Syria, with Israel purportedly threatening to retaliate with nuclear weapons if this happened. This tweet made it to the pages of international newspapers and turned Pakistan into a laughing stock.

The inventor of Twitter probably didn’t envision a nuclear incident resulting from an ill-thought-out tweet, but if anyone could make such a Stanley Kubrick-esque scenario a reality, it would be a Pakistani politician. With great Twitter power comes great Twitter responsibility; our leaders need to restrain themselves from abusing it to the detriment of the people they claim to serve

Riaz Haq said...

#Netflix Streaming Service Competitor Iflix Launches in #Pakistan http://variety.com/2017/digital/asia/iflix-launches-in-pakistan-1201963285/ … via @variety

Asia-based video streaming firm Iflix has begun operations in Pakistan. The launch lifts its operating footprint to eight countries.

“We are hyper-focused on localization,” said Farees Shah, iflix Pakistan GM. “With the largest library of Pakistan’s favourite TV shows and movies available from all over the world, iflix is primed to revolutionize the way Pakistanis consume entertainment.”

Operated from Malaysia, Iflix last year landed a $45 million injection from Sky, the 21st Century Fox-backed U.K. pay-TV giant. And it has been reported that Iflix is seeking $150 million of further capital that it would use for further expansion in Asia, and possibly further afield. For the Pakistan launch, the company claims 160 studio and distributor partnerships.

Its content at launch includes local TV drama series “Mann Mayal,” “Bin Roye,” “Udaari, Zara Yaad Kar,” “Pakeeza,” “Gul e Rana,” “Maan,” “Kaisay Tum Se Kahoon,” “Vasl,” “Mol and others through a deal with leading entertainment drama channel, Hum TV.

International shows available include every episode of “Friends,” “The O.C.” and “Gossip Girl,” and nine seasons of “Big Bang Theory.” Other shows include “The Flash,” “Arrow,” “Gotham,” “2 Broke Girls,” “The 100,” “The Last Ship,” “Person of Interest,” “The Originals,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Mr. Robot” and “The Magicians.”

The service will be available for a monthly $2.89 (PKR 300) with annual subscriptions priced at $27.80 (PKR 2880.)

Prior to Pakistan, iflix had launched in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Brunei, the Maldives.

In a separate move, a specialized new streaming service Ozflix is set to launch in Australia on Jan. 26. Called Ozflix, it aims to make available all of the estimated 2,000 Australian feature films ever made. It will start operation with a library of 250. Significantly, it promises that 50% of revenues will be passed on to distributors or rights holders.