|4G/LTE Speeds Source: Open Signal|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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