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

2 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.