Monday, July 3, 2017

Pakistan's 4G Speeds More Than Twice Faster Than India's

Pakistan's mobile broadband operators are offering download speeds of 11.7 Mbps, more than twice faster than neighboring India's 5.14 Mbps as measured. 3G/4G/LTE Subscriptions are rising rapidly at a rate of about a million a month since the initial rollout in late 2014 brining the total number of subscribers to 41.72 million as of May, 2017.  Growing availability and rising speeds are enabling many new Internet applications that are increasing access to education/training, financial services and commerce while reducing the digital divide between the rich and the poor.

4G/LTE Speeds Source: Open Signal

4G/LTE Speeds: 

Pakistan wireless carriers offer average 4G speed of 11.7 Mbps, more than twice faster than Indian operators' 5.14 Mbps, according to a report by New York based Open Signal's "The State of LTE" report released in June, 2017. Singapore tops the list with 45.6 Mbps 4G download speed. Worldwide average for LTE is 16.2 Mbps.

Here's an excerpt of the Open Signal report:

"Our measurements for 4G availability, which tracks how often 4G subscribers in a country have access to an LTE signal, is gradually improving around the world. In some countries in East Asia LTE signals are as ubiquitous as 2G and 3G signals, while in the vast majority of countries we examined, our testers were able to connect to LTE more than 60% of the time."

In terms of coverage, India is far ahead of Pakistan with the service accessible in 81.56% of the country. Pakistan lags behind with a mere 53.49% coverage. It's important to note that the initial 4G roll-out in both India and Pakistan occurred in late 2014. However, India began offering 3G service in 2010, about 4 years before Pakistan.

3G/4G Subscription Growth: 

Since the initial rollout in late 2014, both 3G and 4G subscriptions have skyrocketed from zero to 41.72 million in May 2017. Of these, 5.98 million subscriptions are for 4G/LTE while the rest are 3G subscriptions, according to Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA).

The 3G/4G/LTE ramp rate in Pakistan works out to over a million new subscribers per month since the initial rollout. As of May, 2017, Mobilink (Jazz) leads the 3G/4G market with over 13.40 million subscribers, followed by Telenor (10.98 million 3G and 4G subscribers), CMPak (12.49 million 3G and 4G subscribers), and Ufone (4.83 million 3G subscribers).

Jazz recently won a 4G license for $295 million at an auction on June 30, 2017. The company is expected to significantly expand 4G coverage in the country.

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:

Pakistan's mobile broadband operators are offering download speeds of 11.7 Mbps, more than twice faster than neighboring India's 5.14 Mbps as measured. 3G/4G/LTE Subscriptions are rising rapidly at a rate of about a million a month since the initial rollout in late 2014 brining the total number of subscribers to 41.72 million as of May, 2017.  Growing availability and rising speeds are enabling many new Internet applications that are increasing access to education/training, financial services and commerce while reducing the digital divide between the rich and the poor.  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

13 comments:

Shakti said...

Offered download speeds never materialize, the average actual speed data is what counts to the end user.

Riaz Haq said...

Shakti: "Offered download speeds never materialize, the average actual speed data is what counts to the end user. "

The speeds reported by Open Signal are actual measured speeds.

Read the following:

Our measurements for 4G availability, which tracks how often 4G subscribers in a country have access to an LTE signal, is gradually improving around the world. In some countries in East Asia LTE signals are as ubiquitous as 2G and 3G signals, while in the vast majority of countries we examined, our testers were able to connect to LTE more than 60% of the time.

https://opensignal.com/reports/2017/06/state-of-lte

Riaz Haq said...

Anusha Rahman, the State Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, has stated that the country will become the first one to test the 5G network and its technology followed by being the first Asian to launch the same network at the end of the testing period in 2020.

What’s new on this news

The 4G spectrum license sold for $295 million.
10% advance tax from JAZZ Communications added to the bid price for a total of $300 million.
Broadband penetration has improved from 3% to 29%.
5G is 40 times faster than 4G.
Pakistan is to be the first country in the world to test the 5G technology followed by its launch in 2021 according to the State Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, Anusha Rahman. The State Minister said through the Ministry’s spokesperson Saghair Watto that preparations were underway to ensure that the technology was rolled out fast enough to reap its benefits.

5G is the fifth generation of cellular networking, enabling the mobile users to use the fast internet. According to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), mobile internet users in the country have grown significantly in the numbers and reached a record 40.56 million active mobile internet users by the end of April 2017.

Saghair Watto said it would be great to make sure that the various beneficiaries such as industries, the government, companies, and individual users will all realize faster working rates. With speeds of up to 40 times faster than the 4G network, 5G networks will have a huge impact on the country as a whole (5G has a capacity of up to 10 Gigabits per second).

The role of the mobile internet in the world and especially in the Pakistan has risen a lot, people are connecting from one corner of the world to the other end of the world via social sites mostly using mobile internet in the process.

The minister went on to say that the penetration of broadband in the country has increased from 3 percent to 29 percent in a very short while.

These developments towards the testing and eventual launch of the 5G network in Pakistan have been fueled by the huge uptake of the 4G network. The spectrum license for the 4G network was sold for $295 million.

https://www.techjuice.pk/pakistan-set-to-be-the-first-country-to-test-5g-technology/

Abdul said...

Inshallah with CPEC and technology Pakistan will be advanced country.
Pakistan Zindabad

Ronnie said...

First country to test 5G by 2021!!! - that sounds far fetched. How do you know no other country will test it by 2021?

Riaz Haq said...

Ronnie: "First country to test 5G by 2021!!! - that sounds far fetched. How do you know no other country will test it by 2021? "

I see no harm in setting ambitious goals with aggressive plans to achieve them.

Chandu Prakashkarankit said...

Speed and availability both matter. What good is speed when availability is absent? Pakistan has very low availability.

Riaz Haq said...

CP: " Pakistan has very low availability. "

4G signal covers more than half the country's area with close to 90% of the population. And the coverage is growing rapidly.

See below:

https://www.researchsnipers.com/best-4glte-mobile-network-pakistan-comparative-analysis-telenor-warid-zong/

Anonymous said...

In India slogans suffice. 4G means it is 4G, even if the reality is 2G. Swachh Bharat slogan means that Bharat is clean, even if there is garbage everywhere.

Hitesh G.

Riaz Haq said...

#Mobile #CellPhone & #Satellites Improve #Farming in #Pakistan. #Irrigation #Agriculture #Water #Technology

https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/mobile-phones-improve-farming-in-pakistan/3922948.html

Mobile phones and satellites are becoming valuable farming tools in Pakistan.

A new program there uses satellite information to estimate how much water a field needs. The satellite then sends this information by text message to farmers' mobile phones.

The program’s aim is to prevent the farmers from overwatering crops. A 2013 report from the Asian Development Bank says Pakistan has some of the most severe water problems in the world. The country’s water availability is similar to Syria’s, where a lack of rainfall has intensified civil war.

Pakistan is only able to store water that can last up to 30 days. That is far below the recommended storage amount of 1,000 days.

Several issues have led to Pakistan’s water crisis. They include climate changes, a growing population, local water mismanagement and a greater demand on farmers.

Many fear the water crisis could weaken relations between Pakistan and India. The two countries share the Indus River.

Turning off the water

Many older Pakistani farmers received agricultural training several years ago, when water was more readily available. They know the risks that come with underwatering crops.

But using too much water can reduce crop harvests.

The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources found that rice farmers were using more than three times as much water as they needed.

The council asked the Sustainability, Satellites, Water, and Environment research group, at the University of Washington, to get involved. The council wanted the research group to use science to help inform irrigation choices.

Pakistan's program started with 700 farmers in the spring of 2016. By January, 10,000 farmers were receiving text messages with a water amount advisory. For example, one message read: "Dear farmer friend, we would like to inform you that the irrigation need for your banana crop was 2 inches during the past week."

The messages come from a fully-automated system. It uses publicly available satellite information. It also uses models to compute how much water each farmer needs to irrigate.

A national effort

The council plans to expand the program for use across the country, and expects millions of farmers to participate. But first the system must be reviewed.

The researchers want to know how easy it is for farmers to use, and how many follow the irrigation advisories. They also want to know how accurate it is and whether it saves farmers money.

They are collecting responses from farmers over the phone.

Faisal Hossain is with the University of Washington. He says he has not seen a report on the results yet. However, the group heard from one farmer in the program who said he was able to get about 700 kilograms more wheat than his neighbor. The farmer said he believes the irrigation advisories made this possible.

Expanding the program may be difficult. The council may need to work harder to persuade farmers to trust the technology. Those working on smaller farms may not feel comfortable depending on mobile phone technology.

Mobile phones are already very common in Pakistan, however. And last year the Punjab government announced that it would give out 5 million smartphones to farmers.

Riaz Haq said...

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > PAKISTAN
Pakistan most affordable country in world for telecom, ICT services: WEF

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1219605/pakistan-affordable-country-world-telecom-ict-services-wef/

Pakistan has been ranked as most the affordable country for ICT services, according to a report published by the World Economic Forum.

The WEF on Thursday published its annual “Global Information Technology Report 2016” which showed Pakistan’s technology and telecom market had the world’s lowest price points as compared to other markets from around the globe.

The report analysed relevant indexes from 139 global markets and rated them against each other. The countries were rated for their financial conditions as well as other factors such as usage, general environment, and impact.

“Pakistan is the market with the lowest price points,” the report said.


Riaz Haq said...

Karandaaz #Pakistan signs grant agreements with 4 ‘#FinTech Disrupt Challenge’ winners - https://pakwired.com/karandaaz-pakistan-agreements-fintech/ … via @pakwired

One of Pakistan’s top financial technology & inclusion players, Karandaaz Pakistan, has signed grant agreements with four winners of the ‘FinTech Disrupt Challenge’ 2017. Aimed at hunting for extraordinary startup ideas worthy of creating substantial social impact, the second chapter of FDC solicited innovative responses to bottlenecks in Pakistan’s financial services sector.

Held at a local hotel in Islamabad, the event saw Karandaaz Pakistan CEO Mr. Ali Sarfraz signing grant agreements with the FDC 2017 winners. CreditFix, the FDC ’17 winner founded by Owais Zaidi, was awarded a grant of USD $100,000. Three runners-up namely Agri-Gate by Saad Tamman, UniKrew Solution by Naveed Tejani, Syed Taha Ali, and Muhammad Naveed Shareef, and Invoice Wakalah by Muhammad Waseem Sheikh, received USD $20,000 each in funding.

Through FDC 2017, Karandaaz had invited startups in five thematic areas including access to financial services, payments, e-commerce, interoperability, and early stage ideas related to mWallet use cases, education of financial services through technology, customer engagement/experience, microcredit, and digital savings. Banks, government regulators, incubators, and complementary actors from the FinTech industry had assembled together at the event to hear the 23 shortlisted startups present their ideas in front of a panel of experts.

“We are confident that the grants we have released today will help these promising startups go to market and change Pakistan’s financial services landscape for the better,” said Mr. Ali Sarfraz, CEO, Karandaaz Pakistan. “The FinTech Disrupt Challenge is a remarkable platform through which we give emerging and aspiring fin-tech players of Pakistan an opportunity to materialize their passion of promoting financial inclusion in the country. I wish CreditFix, Invoice Wakalah, UniKrew, and ‘Agrigate’ the very best of luck for the future.”

The FinTech Disrupt Challenge is an extension of Karandaaz Pakistan’s overall ambition of promoting financial inclusion to marginalized segments of the society. The company extends financial and technical support to financial technology startups which showcase substantial potential to create value for the society.

Riaz Haq said...

#Fintech Startups in #India & #Pakistan Find A Champion In Emerging Market Accelerator Called DFS Lab via @forbes

https://www.forbes.com/sites/chynes/2017/07/18/south-asian-fintech-startups-find-a-champion-in-this-emerging-market-accelerator/#33e128ff3a64

Owais Zaidi was sitting in traffic when a dilapidated-looking cab pulled up next to him. The cabbie asked to borrow 1,000 Pakistani rupees so he could get his tires changed, explaining that a market loan would cost him nearly 50 rupees a day in interest. Zaidi was moved by the man’s plight, and he gave the money as charity rather than a loan. But the encounter got him thinking about the millions of underbanked consumers in Pakistan who face predatory lending practices.

“The guy looked genuine so I gave him money, but it really bothered me how the poor are exploited,” Zaidi said. “Based on my experience consulting with banks, I know how straight-jacketed they are in their policies as well as thoughts.”

Zaidi decided to do more than help this one cabbie. In 2016, he founded CreditFix, a credit marketplace that draws on alternative data to assess creditworthiness among unbanked consumers. The company will launch a pilot program in Pakistan in August with 50,000 potential customers, Zaidi said. CreditFix’s platform will use borrowers’ work histories, mobile top-up records, and utility payments to generate credit scores that will then be visible to lenders who use the marketplace.

“The core goal of CreditFix is to facilitate the underserved and unserved segments of the population in getting access to fair credit, primarily for revenue generating assets,” Zaidi said.

CreditFix’s launch was aided in part by Digital Financial Services Innovation Lab (DFS Lab), a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-backed accelerator that supports fintech startups in the emerging markets of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. DFS Lab provides companies with grant money and is developing an investment model as well. However, the ultimate goal is to connect startups with investors who can provide advice and funding as these early-stage businesses evolve. The organization offers regular mentorship, along with access to resources such as Amazon Web Services and marketing and mobile app support through the Global Accelerator Network (GAN). DFS Lab aims to provide the types of support that are vital to startups and are often lacking in developing markets.

“In Silicon Valley, it’s still hard, but there’s a whole really rich ecosystem that happens -- networking, mentorship, an ethos and community around being an entrepreneur,” said DFS Lab Director Jake Kendall. “Those elements are really missing in developing countries. It’s very hard to connect with people who are at the global frontier.”

Access to qualified, experienced investors can prove particularly important, because predatory investors are prominent in emerging markets, according to Kendall. In some instances, the investors don’t understand the startup space because they’re coming from vastly different industries. In others, they’re focused solely on making money off the companies rather than helping them grow sustainably. The team at DFS Lab tries to prevent such failures by getting quality companies in front of investors who can genuinely assist them.


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With two billion adults still without bank accounts throughout the world, the need for innovative financial services is real. DFS Lab and the startups with which it works have a real opportunity to help meet that need by emphasizing the unique circumstances of underserved consumers in emerging markets.