broadband subscribers as of now.
In an announcement on March 26, 2019, PTA reported "net increase of around 15% in internet usage was witnessed since last week as the country fights against Coronavirus". PTA went on to assure users that "there is sufficient internet capacity available in the country to meet the growing demands of the future". This surge in Internet traffic has occurred in spite of Netflix and YouTube cutting their bandwidth requirements.
Netflix notified PTA in March that "it has developed ways to reduce Netflix’s traffic on telecommunications networks by 25% while also maintaining the quality of service" during the COVID19 pandemic. This action is aimed at reducing stress on the network as people are forced to work from home.
|Pakistan Telecom Indicators As Of December 31, 2019|
Google's YouTube video platform has decided to temporarily change the quality of all videos on YouTube to standard definition. In addition, Google has launched "Bolo" in Pakistan. It is a speech-based reading app in Urdu that uses machine learning to help children read aloud confidently, using their own voice. A free English app has also been introduced that includes fast and easy lessons on business, marketing, management, and more.
Google has added new features and resources to provide locally relevant information to Pakistani users. These include expansion of COVID-19 SOS Alerts and Knowledge Panels on Google Search, as well as YouTube Information Panels. These product features link to National Institute of Health (NIH), to provide locally relevant information to Pakistani citizens.
Google is also offering ad inventory to the Ministry of National Health Services so they can spotlight timely, helpful information. Google has also shared tips and resources for remote workers and students enabling them to improve their productivity. These include a new collection of distance learning solutions, training, and resources to help teachers and students stay connected.
Pakistan has seen a 15% surge in Internet traffic since the coronavirus lockdown started forcing many people to work from home. This traffic spike has occurred in spite of bandwidth hogs like Netflix and YouTube cutting their bandwidth requirements. Pakistan has nearly 80 million subscribers.
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Pakistan's Gig Economy 4th Largest in the World
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Pakistan's Demographic Dividend
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How #COVID19 is fuelling the growth of the stay-at-home economy #StayHome
The COVID-19 pandemic is fuelling the growth of the stay-at-home economy.
E-commerce and grocery delivery services can test new concepts to better meet consumer needs for convenience and health and well-being.
The pandemic is likely to speed up adoption of video streaming and online education, and contribute to more inclusive access.
The coronavirus pandemic is fuelling the growth of the stay-at-home economy. How consumers learn, work, shop and play is poised to change forever.
Consumer preferences have been shifting toward e-commerce and online entertainment and education for over a decade. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has been a boon to companies that serve the stay-at-home economy, which are displaying agility by simultaneously experimenting with new ideas to build brand affinity.
Since mid-March, Amazon has hired 175,0000 workers in the United States to meet surging demand for online shopping. Instacart, an American technology company that provides same-day grocery delivery and pick-up service in the U.S. and Canada, stated that their weekly sales jumped 10-fold, and 20 times higher in California and Washington State, where the virus was widespread early in the pandemic. The company is also leveraging the heightened interest in grocery delivery to test new, innovative concepts to better meet consumer needs for convenience and their health and well-being, such as the option to have groceries left at a customer’s doorstep at a designated time in lieu of hand delivery.
Concurrently, according to online restaurant reservation service OpenTable, on-site dining dropped 42% compared with a year ago.
Video streaming has been on the rise for over a decade, but last year, the number of streaming subscribers around the world (613 million) surpassed the number of cable subscribers (556 million), according to the Motion Picture Association of America. With city governments asking citizens to shelter in place, new streaming subscription services are seeing growth. Disney+, for example, has had a 75% rise in subscribers since early February and passed 50 million paying subscribers in its first five months.
In the meantime, in China, during a 20-day period commencing on the eve of the Lunar New Year, box office revenues fell to $3.9 million from $1.5 billion in 2019. While it is uncertain when consumers will return to movie theatres, it is quite certain that stay-at-home entertainment will continue to break new ground for growth and market size as consumers around the globe continue to isolate at home.
Amid the coronavirus crisis, Zoom Video is leading the charge towards virtual work-from-home practices and poised to accelerate a seismic shift in how work gets done. In the early days of the pandemic, Zoom’s stock increased 58% through 13 March, whereas the S&P 500 was down 16% in the same time period. While some US states and countries are beginning to open up, large cohorts of employees continue working from home. They are also gaining exposure to new digital engagement capabilities that can be leveraged to host both small and large meetings such as interactive workshops, hence eliminating the need for travel.
Furthermore, we are seeing the rapid transition to online education across all levels – primary school and high school to the university level. Digital technologies are reshaping the world of education in ways previously unimagined for a historically change-resistant institution. Plato once said that “necessity is the mother of invention.” Perhaps now, education will change as fast as technology and contribute to inclusive societies with unprecedented access to knowledge and prosperity.
#Pakistan #Digitisation gets a boost amid #COVID-19 #pandemic. Daily Interbank financial transactions (ibft) was averaging 188,000 during the pre-#lockdown period, it jumped to around 357,000 and hit the peak of almost 700,000 towards the end of May.-
EVER since the coronavirus outbreak forced people to distance, there’s been a lot of talk in financial and tech circles of the accelerating behavioural shift that will push digitisation.
But so far, little evidence has surfaced at a broad level to substantiate the claims. To get a better sense of the underlying trends, let’s take a look at the data that Dawn acquired from 1LINK — a payment service operator/provider and switch system.
It shows that compared with the pre-lockdown period (up to March 23), inter-bank funds transfer (IBFT) witnessed a massive jump of 90.4 per cent in volume post-lockdown.
While the number of daily IBFT transactions was averaging around 188,000 during the pre-lockdown period, it jumped to around 357,000 and hit the peak of almost 700,000 towards the end of May.
Similarly, the value of IBFT transactions also soared 40.7pc between March 24 and June 15 compared with the period spanning from Jan 1 to the imposition of the first nationwide lockdown.
On the other hand, ATM cash withdrawals (interbank through 1LINK) dipped 20.4pc in volume and 14.8pc in value as the number of work hours was often reduced and people avoided outdoors.
Meanwhile, bill payments through 1LINK (across all modes) saw a mixed trend. Their volume fell 11pc while value grew 9.7pc.
However, the number of billers integrated on the 1LINK Bill Payment Service rose exponentially in the past few months — from 75 until December 2019 to more than 420 as of now — suggesting a rapidly growing shift towards online channels from the supply side.
Easypaisa registered a 17pc increase in the number of daily transactions through its app while Daraz witnessed an increase of 8.2 times in the use of e-wallets
Another interesting bit was the average ticket size of mobile top-ups. It increased 36pc from Rs143 pre-lockdown to Rs195 now.
The most significant spike came in the number of transactions of Punjab government payments. Its volume surged a whopping 3,014pc and value 57pc in June from March.
This was accompanied by an overall rise in person-to-government payments — to the Federal Board of Revenue, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Sindh Revenue Board and Punjab government — processed through 1LINK. Its volume grew 34pc and value 64pc in June from March.
However, it must be pointed out that 1LINK data includes neither ATM transactions at the card-issuing bank’s own branch nor the intrabank funds transfer given that the company is limited to interoperability.
According to 1LINK Chief Disruption Officer Syed Ahsan Aslam, around 50pc of the total ATM transactions go through the company while the remaining are done at the issuing bank itself. A similar trend is at play in funds transfers. So based on these shares, we still get a good idea — albeit incomplete — about underlying digital payment trends.
#5G to boost #Pakistan's economic growth: Shift to #cloud, IoT, and better integration of #AI into the public #health response and use of #technology for smart service #delivery. #Covid_19 #Lockdown #education #WorkFromHome #ecommerce https://tribune.com.pk/story/2254455/5g-ecosystem-will-boost-growth-in-pakistan
We foresee our 5G ecosystem to serve as the bedrock of sustainable socio-economic development in Pakistan, said Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Amir Azeem Bajwa.
Addressing the SAMENA Telecommunications Council Leaders’ Summit, he said that deployment of this transformative technology should be precisely timed, supported by intelligent regulatory initiatives, enabled by adequate spectrum resources, under favourable market conditions, and with consensus of all stakeholders.
“I believe that readiness of our telecom infrastructure will be sufficient to support 5G networks and services across the country.”
Telecommunications leaders and experts from Pakistan and across the world recently gathered at the summit to review plans for unleashing the potential of 5G networks to boost economies and societies in a post Covid-19 environment.
The event, held virtually for the first time, was hosted by Huawei for the seventh successive year.
Also speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus said, “We have to really think of the internet as one of the most democratising forces. How do we ensure that we are helping young people come out, apply their skills, apply their knowledge, and apply their creativity to innovate for the country? And really, a government’s job here is to clear the path.”
Meanwhile, Huawei Middle East President Charles Yang said that the outbreak has led to increased demand for ICT solutions specifically in areas like 5G amid a boost in network usage and 5G 2B innovations.
“Meeting that demand will require new forms of public-private partnerships based on open collaboration, supporting strong industry policies that will enable social value, economic development, and provide enhanced service experiences to consumers across the region,” he added.
The summit was held under the theme ‘5G+X: Harnessing 5G across industries for investment revival’ and highlighted how technology and ICT infrastructure play a significant role in our societies and economies.
The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the need to strengthen digital infrastructure to better prepare societies for future crises and to make systems more resilient and sustainable, guaranteeing a better and more effective outcome.
A shift to cloud, IoT, and better integration of AI into the public health response was also spotlighted, in addition to harnessing of other technologies for smart service delivery, which should be a key priority moving forward.
#Pakistan Central Bank (SBP) okays pilot operation of PayFast #ecommerce gateway. Large number of Pakistanis switched to #internet and #mobile banking & other #payments platforms since the start of #COVID19 pandemic. #DigitalPakistan | The Express Tribune https://tribune.com.pk//story/2255403/sbp-okays-pilot-operation-of-e-commerce-gateway
The State Bank of Pakistan has granted approval to the pilot operation of an e-commerce payment gateway.
PayFast aims to capitalise on over 80 million 3G/4G subscribers in Pakistan citing massive potential of e-commerce in the country.
The approval comes on back of a boom in online payments in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic as customer’s preferences shifted from cash to cashless means.
Nevertheless cash still remains dominant in the economy with over 90% of online transactions being conducted on cash on delivery mode, the company said.
In a statement on Friday, CEO of the platform Syed Adnan Ali said digitalisation is an indispensable need of the society particularly after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Detailing about the platform, he said it aimed at providing intuitive, reliable and a high standard solution to consumers while also contributing to the economy.
He voiced hope that the platform will act as a catalyst to digitalise the economy and promote a cashless economy in Pakistan.
He added that company’s portfolio included 12 major banks of Pakistan.
However, the company added that it has low number of merchants primarily due to dearth of cost effective, robust and secure online payment solutions compatible with multiple modes of integration such as Open APIs, plugins etc.
Last year, the central bank began implementation of digital micro-payment infrastructure system which allowed transfer of funds in almost real time aimed at bringing a rapid surge in online payments in public and private sectors.
After outbreak of Covid-19 in Pakistan, a huge number of Pakistanis switched to internet and mobile banking and other payment platforms in a bid to adopt precautionary measures against the pandemic.
#Pakistan #ecommerce: 10.6% shopped online for the first time during #lockdown; 18.7% said they're ordering more online now; 16.8% said they regularly used e-commerce channels even before the #lockdown. 53.4% still buy groceries offline at physical stores. https://aurora.dawn.com/news/1143792
Covid-19 has changed most aspects of our lives and caused upheaval in every business imaginable – and consumer spending, one of the most important driving forces for economic growth, has been no exception. The pandemic has not only impacted some important factors that determine consumer spending, such as employment, cost of living and consumer confidence, it has also changed how consumers are spending their incomes.
Surprisingly, while the rest of the world saw a spike in online shopping during the lockdown (groceries mainly), in Pakistan 53.4% still purchased groceries from physical stores. Only 10.6% used an online channel to buy an item for the first time although 18.7% said they are ordering more online now; 16.8% said they regularly used e-commerce channels for their purchases even before the lockdown. Nearly 12% said they were willing to try online shopping for the first time but had not done it yet. (7.5% said they did not have the option to shop online in their respective cities or areas). The most common items purchased online include clothes (9.8%), hand sanitizers (9.3%), masks (7.9%), electronic appliances (6.2%), meat/poultry (6%) and gloves (5%).
While the lockdown has seen a surge in internet banking globally, in Pakistan only 5.9% downloaded banking apps or used online banking services for the first time during the lockdown; 22.5% said they are not using online banking channels while 4.7% said they would like to try in the near future. Nearly 66% respondents who said they use online banking channels stated that they had been doing so even before the lockdown.
About 43% of #Pakistani consumers responding to the #Visa survey confirmed that they had not been visiting physical store locations to do their shopping or at least not as much as before the #coronavirus #pandemic began. #ecommerce #onlinebusiness https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2020/09/166970-majority-of-pakistani-consumers-to-make-digital-payments-for-online-purchases-instead-of-visiting-physical-stores-even-after-covid-survey/
Visa’s Stay Secure website has many useful tips and educational videos about how to conduct safe and secure digital payments.
About 43% of Pakistani consumers responding to the survey confirmed that they had not been visiting physical store locations to do their shopping or at least not as much as before the pandemic began. Over 50% of respondents said that when they do shop at physical stores, they prefer to use cash less often or try to avoid it. Many consumers also claim they are trying to make contactless or digital payments.
There are not too many QR payment users in Pakistan, but those that do use the payment method said they’re using it more than before the COVID-19 outbreak. Chip and PIN users also reported that they were using these payment methods a lot more now. More than 50% of people responding to the survey also said that they’re paying for items with their cards instead of cash on delivery or COD. The majority or 65% of survey respondents said they trust QR payments.
If and when COVID is over, 55% of online shoppers surveyed in Pakistan claimed that they’ll keep making more purchases via online stores, instead of visiting physical locations. Almost 50% said they will continue to pay with their cards and not COD, which is still the most widely-used payment option right now in Pakistan, even during COVID.
Kamil Khan, Country Manager for Pakistan, Visa, stated:
“The study shows that consumer behavior changes due to the pandemic – such as shifting online and increasing the use of digital payments, are likely to continue even after the pandemic – an important take-away for businesses developing strategies for the post-COVID-19 consumer and market overall. We are excited to launch the Visa ’Stay Secure’ campaign to educate consumers about protecting themselves and to offer merchants important insights for navigating the new normal of cashless commerce.”
Digital wallet provider EasyPaisa recently partnered with Fintech firm PayFast to accelerate virtual payments adoption in Pakistan.
Trulioo, an on-demand global identity verification company, has confirmed that it will expand its ID verification capabilities to Pakistan. Alibaba Group’s e-commerce site Daraz in Pakistan will be encouraging consumers to perform digital payments by offering a 10% discount on Mondays on purchases made with Visa cards.
#Pakistan in #4G download speed 51% faster than #India's. Both showed a growth in #internet download speeds over last year, with India growing by nearly 12% and Pakistan's download speed grew 24%. #mobile #Broadband #telecoms https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/india-trails-pakistan-in-4g-download-speed-report-says/article32982144.ece
India came second to Pakistan in terms of mean download speed over a mobile phone in the July to September period of 2020.
Pakistan showed nearly 40% faster mobile download speed than India last quarter, according to Internet access analytics firm Ookla.
In terms of mean upload speed, India stood last among the South Asian countries at nearly 4 Mbps. Bangladesh stood third for download speed and second for upload speed.
Both India and Pakistan showed a growth in internet download speeds over the year, with India growing by nearly 12% compared with the same period last year. Pakistan's download speed grew 24% this quarter compared with last year.
In terms of 4G LTE performance, Pakistan outperformed India with its mean download speed over 4G being 51% faster than India's.
India's mobile data speeds is said to be one of the slowest in the world, trailing Pakistan, Nepal, South Korea and Sri Lanka, according to Ookla's Speedtest Global Index. Ookla ranked 138 countries based on internet speeds and India ranked 131st.
India is one of the largest markets in the world for smartphones. It also has access to the one of the cheapest data rates around the globe. The findings also come at a time when operators worldwide compete to roll out the fastest internet service there could be - 5G.
Everything we know about Neom, a 'mega-city' project in Saudi Arabia with plans for flying cars and robot dinosaurs
Saudi Arabia is building a futuristic mega-city called Neom deep in a desert bordering the Red Sea.
The state has pledged at least $500 billion to make it happen, and is soliciting further investment.
Blueprints obtained by the Wall Street Journal detail wild plans for artificial rain, a fake moon, robotic maids, and holographic teachers.
Phase one is due for completion in 2020, with the final brick laid in 2025. It is unclear whether it will live up to its sky-high expectations.
Here's everything we know about the city which Saudi Arabia says will be 33 times the size of New York City.
Pakistan joins Saudi-led initiative for digital cooperation
“Pakistan has joined the Digital Cooperation Organisation (DCO) as a founding member,” the Foreign Office said as Saudi Arabia launched the new organisation at a virtual event. A video statement of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was also played at the event.
Besides Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, other members of the DCO are Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and the UAE. Mr Qureshi, in his statement, said the creation of the DCO would cater to the growing need of international cooperation and collaboration in the digital domain.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi's Tweet:
"Digital Diplomacy is an integral part of my Public Diplomacy Initiative under #VisionFO: today, i am pleased to announce 🇵🇰 joins multilat Digital Cooperation Organisation as Founding Member, ushering in new era of #digitaldiplomacy w/ long term opp to shape global digital agenda"
“DCO would offer a platform to promote the global digital agenda in the scientific, health, educational, commercial, social, agricultural, investment and security spheres,” he said.
The FO’s statement noted that digital diplomacy had been a core component of the foreign minister’s public diplomacy initiative that aimed at bringing innovation and enhancing Pakistan’s digital diplomacy footprint.
“The information revolution presents a unique opportunity to leapfrog the development deficit. Pakistan’s membership of DCO would contribute to the attainment of that objective,” it added.
UNDP mission to support Pakistan’s digital transformation
A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) mission is in Pakistan to support the country’s digital transformation.
Former chairman of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Tariq Malik, who is currently the UNDP’s chief technical adviser on digital governance, is spearheading the mission.
Mr Malik, who is advising member states on digital interventions aimed at improving governance, will initiate official mission from Nov 20, following his two-week quarantine.
He will be meeting officials from UN agencies, development partners and key government officials.
Mr Malik will meet, either virtually or in-person, key individuals and their technical staff.
He is also expected to hold meetings with ministers and secretaries of government departments for the purpose.
He is supposed to discuss digital Pakistan policy with IT ministry, role of digital technology in Covid-19 response with National Health Services Ministry and e-payment system with the governor of State Bank of Pakistan.
He is also likely to discuss gender gap and statistics of registration of vulnerable population with Nadra chairman.
The economic affairs’ division has already sent an official memorandum to all relevant ministries, divisions and departments to schedule their meetings with the UNDP official.
#Pakistan's National Carrier PTCL Integrates Avaya With Online #Digital #Education Platform, QTaleem for 53 million students. It is is enabling school administrators, teachers and students to deliver a 360-degree digital education experience. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/pakistans-national-carrier-ptcl-integrates-131900878.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=tw&tsrc=twtr via @Yahoo
Launching nationwide, PTCL QTaleem delivers a 360-degree digital education experience, enabling school administrators, teachers and students to be as productive online as they are on-campus. Being fully cloud-based, it delivers an end-to-end school management system, offering multitenancy, regional language support, quick installation and onboarding, and the ability to host live and recorded video classes.
Hosted on the secure PTCL TIA942 Rated-3 Data Center, PTCL QTaleem enables the delivery of an entire educational experience, from online training to support for boarding and operations, through a single window. The application-based platform will help to make learning more engaging, creating a holistic learning experience.
Speaking on the partnership, Zarrar Hasham Khan, Chief Business Services Officer, PTCL, said, "As a national carrier, PTCL is enabling an online education framework that has the potential to help more than 53 million students across the country. With this strategic partnership, we are able to address the current challenges facing the education sector in the country by bringing transformational change to delivering education, which is in line with Digital Pakistan."
Speaking on the occasion, Nour El Atassi, Director, Service Providers – APAC, Middle East and Africa, Avaya, said, "Our partnership with PTCL brings a video collaboration solution to schools across Pakistan, enabling learning to take place anytime and anywhere. The current scenario has proved that the dissemination of knowledge is not dependent on a physical campus or traditional classroom. We look forward to supporting the country as it massively expands its reach of knowledge across the board."
Avaya Spaces, the all-in-one video collaboration app for the digital workplace, integrates with PTCL's QTaleem and enables the delivery of seamless video classes. This integration brings a campus-like experience to virtual classes, leveraging Avaya Spaces' ability to centralize voice, video, messaging, chat and task management into a single application accessible through a desktop or mobile. This solution will facilitate educational institutions, both on- and off-campus, as they move towards blended education models.
Rapid digitisation transforms economic and socio-cultural landscape of Pakistan - Daily Times
The increasing digitization of life has brought about drastic transformation in socio-cultural and economic landscape of Pakistan during the last two decades with exponential growth in use of electronic gadgets and tools of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs).
The electronic gadgets have become a commonplace phenomenon of everyday life in almost every household even in the remotest parts of the country. Therefore, if anything happens worth watching or reading in any part of the globe, it does not go unnoticed on social media. Similarly, the trending (the stuff of your choice) that appears on the screen keeps the viewer mentally engaged for hours.
Everything has been brought down to the pocket size minicomputer on the palm of the consumer. It is a whole world of socialization with a number of social media websites. The Facebook and whatsapp groups of friends, family members and colleagues have once again virtually connected people.
The IT has provided alternate means to almost everything from education to citizen-government interaction, economy to market-customer relations, socialization to marketing, healthcare to banking sector, praying to mourning, greetings to happy birthday wishes, sports to entertainment, media to business, Google maps to webinars, YouTube Channels to online newspaper, e-commerce to online games, e-payment to online transaction, online shopping to digital tourism. Artificial Intelligence (IA), robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), big data, automation, cloud computing, and mobility had a growing effect over the industry, economy and socio-cultural environment of the country.
Therefore, the incumbent government has pursued the dream to digitize almost each and every sector for strengthening the socio-economic fabric of the country.
The digital journey has got more momentum in Pakistan when people were restricted to their residences during the first and second waves of Covid-19 to overcome the spread of coronavirus. The citizens were left with no choice but to use the gadgets for socialization and other purposes more frequently.
Telecom Sector Contributed Rs. 278 Billion to National Exchequer in 2020: PTA Annual Report
The telecom sector has emerged as a prominent contributor to Pakistan’s economy and its contribution to the national exchequer has shown an increase of 129 percent in 2020 as compared to 2019 despite the economy being under pressure due to the effects of the pandemic.
As per the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) Annual Report 2020 released here today, the sector contributed Rs. 278 billion (including the PTA’s deposits to the national exchequer) in the FY 2020 as compared to Rs. 121 billion in the FY 2019 registering a Year-on-Year growth of 129 percent.
A surge in the demand for telecom services due to the lockdown had resulted in significant growth not only in the subscriber base but also in the usage of telecom services.
Today, data usage stands at 4,498 Peta Bytes (FY2020) as compared to 2,545 Peta Bytes (FY 2019), showing a growth of over 77 percent. This substantial growth would not have been possible if the networks had not been upgraded. The country currently has international bandwidth connectivity of 3.1 TeraBytes and around 47,000 cell sites, of which 90 percent are 4G-enabled sites.
According to the PTA’s Annual Report, the total broadband subscriptions in the country grew by 175 percent over the last five years. Today, broadband subscribers have crossed 90 million, showing a growth of around 8 percent in the FY 2020. Additionally, Pakistan had a total broadband penetration of 42.2 percent in the FY 2020.
The telecom networks are currently available for 87 percent of the population and PTA is working with operators to increase their network coverage for the remaining 13 percent of the unserved people in Pakistan. The total teledensity now stands at 82 percent with over 172 million Mobile subscribers and 2.2 million fixed-line subscribers.
In 2020, although the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) across the economy had been affected by the global lockdowns, the telecom sector made an iconic share of 25 percent (USD 623 million) in the total FDI made in the country. The total investment made by the local operators grew by 14.25 percent, and a total of USD 734 million were invested locally.
The total revenues of the sector reached Rs. 537 billion in the FY 2020, which had mainly been generated by the mobile sector. The financial gains have been enjoyed equally by telecom consumers, the affordability of telecom services in Pakistan has improved over the years, and the per GB broadband prices are currently as low as USD 0.20, which is among the lowest in the region.
Similarly, due to the Device Identification & Registration System (DIRBS), the introduction of government revenues increased manifold with the collection of taxes on the import of handsets. The local manufacturing of handsets has enlivened the telecom ecosystem with growth in local 4G device manufacturing crossing 34 percent.
PTA Renews PTCL License for 25 Years
Pakistan also underwent trials of 5G services which were one of the few firsts in South Asia. The PTA is aiming for a spectrum auction of LTE and VoLTE services in 2021 as a precursor to 5G. It is also gearing up for an auction of a spectrum for high-speed broadband services in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
The PTA Annual Report highlights that this year, the regulator awarded 110 licenses for numerous telecom services and issued 91 certificates for the commencement of service to operators.
The PTA conducted QoS surveys across Pakistan for data, voice, and SMS services, and the operators were directed to take corrective measures where they had underperformed. It also conducted a number of successful raids against illegal VoIP setups this year to curb grey telephony.
Mobile wallet penetration is currently low with the total number of accounts standing at 46mn (34% of the adult population) and active accounts at 25mn (18% of ...
Easypaisa, a leading digital wallet in Pakistan, reported a significant increase in activity during the lockdown
This is an indication, and reinforces our view, that Covid-19 could drive a shift to digital payments in Pakistan
Pakistan represents an ideal environment for digital banking to thrive
The report draws insights from a regional survey, which polled more than 5,000 consumers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Pakistan.
Across those countries, 47% of consumers said they expected to shop online more frequently over the next year. Only 15% expected their online shopping frequency to decline, while the remaining 38% expected it to remain the same.
The likely surge in e-commerce and digital payments in 2021 is consistent across the countries surveyed, with 49% of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) consumers saying they will shop online more frequently, and 48% in Jordan, 47% in Egypt and 39% in Pakistan saying the same.
Mo Ali Yusuf, regional manager at Checkout.com, said Covid-19 was driving a “significant share” of e-commerce and digital payment transactions in the Middle East, with 40% of online shoppers saying they are buying and paying online because of the pandemic.
“We’ve witnessed this steady shift to digital payments over the past six years, but the pandemic has really served as a catalyst – condensing five years of growth into a matter of months,” Yusuf told Computer Weekly.
“While there has been a sudden surge in e-commerce and digital payments this year due to the impact of Covid-19, what we are seeing today is more than a temporary change in consumer behaviour.”
Yusuf said that despite a big uptake in digital payments across the Middle East in the last few years, cash on delivery still occupies a significant proportion of share of wallet for consumers.
“This presents a market with huge potential for continued growth over the next decade,” he pointed out.
Preference for digital payments over cash on delivery or bank transfers rises significantly as consumers shop online more frequently, according to the report. Among those who shop online at least once a month, 62% usually pay by card or digital wallet, compared with 44% among the less frequent online shoppers.
“Robust digital payment options have become an integral part of what consumers expect from merchants, especially as e-commerce is more widely embraced in the region,” said Yusuf.
According to Khalid Dannish, CEO of Bahrain Fintech Bay, the island’s fintech accelerator hub, the region is seeing a flood of new digital payments activity in the wake of Covid-19.
“The infrastructure and accessibility is now there for merchants and consumers,” he said. “The pandemic has changed consumer behaviour in a lasting way.
“Given the young nature of regional demographics, the preference is to move towards digital payment strategies not just for convenience but also for user experience. We are seeing digital payments being used for everything from meals to clothing to groceries and utilities.”
#Zoom Videoconferencing Filters Playing Tricks: #ZoomCat filter lawyer passes torch to upside-down congressman. Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota appeared as an upside-down floating head in a committee meeting. #COVID19 #lockdown https://cnet.co/3d6KnEm via @CNET
Technology for virtual meetings is having its revenge on humans. A day after attorney Rod Ponton went viral for getting stuck with a kitten filter on during a Zoom hearing, we got a new tech fumble. In a meeting of the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, Minnesota Republican Rep. Tom Emmer, showed up as an upside-down floating head.
"I don't know what happened," Emmer said when Waters asked if he was OK. "It just came out this way. I turned it off and turned it back on and I'm still..."
The kitten incident was obviously still fresh in viewers minds, as numerous lawmakers shouted variations on "at least he's not a cat." Said one, "You're going viral, Tom."
Emmer was able to fix his flipped image and continue speaking. He later tweeted a photo of his upside-down face with the knowing caption "I am not a cat."
One Twitter user responded, "Sounds exactly like what a cat would say."
Viral Zoom cat filter: How to copy that lawyer and turn yourself into a cat, too
Feeling inspired by the lawyer who accidentally appeared as a kitten in a Zoom legal proceeding? We'll show you how to spice up your next video call, too.
If you've been anywhere near the internet this week, you've probably seen the viral video of a virtual legal proceeding in Texas that wouldn't have been very noteworthy -- except for the fact that a lawyer accidentally switched on a filter that turned his face into an adorable kitten, and couldn't figure out how to turn it off.
"I'm here live. I'm not a cat," the lawyer said, identified on his Zoom screen as Rod Ponton. "I can see that," the judge responds before trying to walk the lawyer through fixing the filter issue.
Spotify launches in #Pakistan. It's available free thru iOS & Android apps. Users can upgrade to Spotify Premium to have ad-free access, and the ability to download #music and skip unlimited songs. It's priced at PKR 299 (~$1.9) per month. https://www.menabytes.com/spotify-launches-pakistan/ via @MENAbytes
Spotify, the world’s leading music streaming service has launched in Pakistan, it announced in a statement today to MENAbytes. It is one of the over 80 new markets where Spotify is launching its service this month. The rumors of company’s expansion to Pakistan had first surfaced online in November 2020 after it had created a verified Instagram page.
The newly launched service is available for free through iOS and Android apps, and the users have the option to upgrade to to Spotify Premium to have ad-free access, and other features including the ability to download music and skip unlimited songs. It is priced at PKR 299 (~$1.9) per month. Spotify is also offering a premium family subscription plan for PKR 479 ($3) per month that can be used by six family members “living under one roof” and another plan priced at PKR 390 ($2.45) for two people living at the same address. At PKR 149 per month (about 95 cents), the cheapest subscription option is avaialble only for university students.
In addition to cards, the users that have Telenor or Zong as their mobile operator can also pay for the subscription using their mobile credit (or bill).
In a statement, the company said that its catalog includes over 70 million tracks of local and international music. The app already features different playlists made for Pakistan (that will be regularly updated) including Hot Hits Pakistan, Pakistani Rock Hits, Pakistani Indie 101, Drama OSTs, Loadshedding Longing, and more.
Claudius Boller, the Managing Direct for Spotify Middle East & Africa is leading the team of music and audio experts for the newly launched South Asian markets inlcuding Pakistan. Commenting on the launch, he said, “We want to share the gift of music with as many people as possible to enrich the lives of not only our listeners, but the local artists who will now have access to a global audience. We always want to be where our fans are, and with this expansion we are furthering our mission of sharing the sounds of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka with the rest of the world.”
Unlike the Middle East, music streaming hasn’t taken off in Pakistan yet. Patari is the only notable local player in the space. Its CEO Zarlasht Faisal labeled Spotify’s arrival in Pakistan ‘exciting’.
“We’ve always believed that Pakistani music streaming has huge potential. Spotify entering the market is a validation of that. Music streaming as a vertical has been underfunded in Pakistan. With an endorsement of its potential by a player like Spotify, we believe it will mean more risk appetite and investment in this sector and continuous development of an ecosystem that will streamline music distribution, monetization, and opportunities for local music and audio,” stated Zarlasht in a conversation with MENAbytes.
Pakistan’s Mobile Broadband subscribers cross 100mn mark....mobile broadband is provided over 3G/4G networks with an average download speed of 17.7 Mbps and upload speed of 11.3 Mbps (mobile) which is above the speed levels in other regional countries.
As per the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the achievement comes on the back of government policies, effective competition among telecom operators.
PTA stated that in 2012, there were less than 2 million subscriptions but after the introduction of 3G services, the figure jumped to 16 million in 2014 and 100 million in 2021. The telecom regulator informed that presently 87 percent of the country's population has access to internet/broadband services at one of the lowest rates in the region.
It informed that broadband is provided over 3G/4G networks with an average download speed of 17.7 Mbps and upload speed of 11.3 Mbps (mobile) which is above the speed levels in other regional countries.
It was learned that mobile data prices declined to only 0.70pc of the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita which is well below the UN Broadband Commission’s recommendation of less than 2pc.
PTA said that all four national Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs), SCO, and fixed-line broadband operators including PTCL collectively have broadband subscriptions of over 100 million.
Back in 2010, the Pakistan telecom sector reached 100 million mobile subscriptions, it launched the first-ever biometrically verified SIMs across the country in 2009 and implemented the world’s first open-source DIRBS in 2019.
Smartphone manufacturing get a boost
Smartphone manufacturing policy was unveiled in March 2020. And by now there are commitments from a few players to assemble 1.5 million units a month – 18 million units per annum in a year’s time. Last week, Airlink did a launching ceremony of its factory situated in Lahore. The factory is following international standards and has a capacity to produce 500,000 units a month with a plan to ramp up the assembly to make 800,000 units each month by April 2021 in full three shifts. Based on seasonality and other demand factors, the company is geared up to produce 6 million units a year.
Apart of Airlink, another factory in Karachi has a capacity to produce 6 million units a year. These two factories are functional. Airlink was into the mobile phone distribution business and is now vertically integrated from assembling to retailing. The other company - Transsion Tecno has a long experience of manufacturing in automobile parts. Another player, Vivo has also bought land for factory in Faisalabad and is panning to produce 300,000 units a month. Yet another company Inovi Telecom’s claim is to assemble 200,000 units a month.
Combining all these, around 18 million units a year (1.5mn units a month) will be produced in Pakistan by 2022. Right now, the market size of smartphone is around 36 million units a year – mainly relying on imports. This market size has a potential to grow as a good chunk of consumers are on feature phones and these may slowly transit to smartphones. Plus, every year, there are around 2 million youth coming of age for smartphone use.
That is why Samsung and other players are thinking about starting to assemble in Pakistan. Samsung is big in Pakistan and is catering to high, middle, and low-end smartphones. In the low and medium size, the company must come in local assembling to remain viable – as per new policy, the smartphones under $200 price would not be viable to sell as imported units.
The existing two players (Airlink and Tecno) are contract manufacturers. Samsung is eying a partnership with a contract manufacturer in Pakistan. It is in talks with a few select groups in Pakistan for partnership including biggies like Nishat and Lucky. Samsung is also considering Airlink for partnership – the edge Airlink would have is its expertise in selling.
Smartphone assembling is a low capex and high working capital business. Airlink’s capex is around Rs600-700 million; but its working capital requirement is much bigger. If it sells at an average price of $60 per unit, for 500,000 units, it will be selling around Rs5 billion worth of phones a month. The WC need would be somewhere around Rs20 billion (considering three cycles a year). The company has arranged the working capital from bank credit lines; but is also planning to list on the stock exchange. This will be first of its kind listing on the PSX.
Tech in the Post-Pandemic World
Assessing its future, both the bad and the good.
By Kara Swisher
Ms. Swisher covers technology and is a contributing opinion writer.
The freaky video of the New York Police Department’s robot dog owned the internet earlier this month. The minute that DigiDog creepily trotted out of a public housing building, many people decided that the “Terminator” future had arrived — and that humanity was doomed.
Humanity is not doomed. But the hubbub got me thinking about how to assess the future of tech, both the bad and the good, in the wake of the pandemic.
Much like the major changes that raced through American society after the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic (also after World War I), this will be a jarring time. Here’s my take on five of the key arenas we need to be thinking about post-pandemic.
Telecommuting. Work, and specifically its shift from the office to the home, has been one of the most significant changes of the past year. Of course many jobs still require physical presence, but the number of workers who do not have to be analog is vast and growing.
These so-called knowledge workers have realized — even with all the griping about being on Zoom all the time — that it can be both cheaper and more productive to have a work force that is more flexible in terms of place and time.
Telehealth. Health care is another area that was ripe for disruption prepandemic, as the industry had resisted tech for many years. A number of giant companies like Microsoft and Google have tried to streamline the consumer health experience, while many others have been part of digitizing the back end, but it’s still a miasma of confusion. The pandemic only underscored the poor state of the country’s health services.
Retail. Physical retail — including restaurants and bars — has been under enormous pressure for years, as tech companies have increasingly placed themselves between the goods and customers. All the while, tech companies have been building one moat after the next to solidify their strength by providing better service, streamlining delivery logistics and offering better prices.
Tele-education. Online education has not worked out so well in the past year. A reliance on virtual education has taken a toll on our mental health and revealed inequities in internet access. It’s still a problematic experience for most users. Everyone I talk with agrees that it’s been a failure for most students.
Innovation. The most important thing to come out of the pandemic could be a flowering of innovation, across a wide variety of sectors. After the 1918 pandemic, the 1920s saw a burst of aggressive ideas, most especially with the introduction of the television.
While I can’t predict what the 2020s equivalent of that will be, if I had to guess, I would say we’ll see new breakthroughs related to the messenger RNA technology used to develop several Covid vaccines. Such a thing would be both ironic and fitting, and in keeping with how innovation works: Out of the ashes of great distress comes a major discovery. And the rest is, as they say, history.
Pakistan’s imports of cellphones swelled by 56.74 per cent to $1.54 billion in the first nine months of 2020-21 compared to $979.965 million over the corresponding period last year.
#Netflix cuts prices in #Pakistan to grow #streaming business. The Standard plan now costs Rs 800 per month whereas the Premium plan is now priced at Rs 1,100. The plans were earlier, Rs 1500 and Rs 1200 respectively. #entertainment #movies #online https://tribune.com.pk/story/2324797/netflix-lowers-prices-in-pakistan
While Netflix recently hiked prices in NZ, Netherlands as well as Spain, the company has reduced prices in Pakistan
Last month Netflix announced it is launching a free mobile plan in Kenya as the global streaming giant hopes to bank on the 20 million internet users the country offers. The plan will allow users to sign up free of cost and includes ads.
Netflix has experimented with a different price offerings in different countries to attract customers, esp in developing nations. The mobile plans offered in India and Pakistan are one such example.
Netflix India Content Chief Monika Shergill Discusses Local Strategy – APOS India
Post pandemic, the Indian streaming audience is willing to consume varied content, and Netflix plans to serve them from around the world, as well as offering a plethora of local content, according to Monika Shergill, VP, content, Netflix India.
Speaking at the APOS India media conference on Tuesday, Shergill said, “Over the last couple of years, we’ve had a dramatic growth … what we’ve really seen and learned over the last couple of years, particularly, is that the Indian audience is really ready for a lot of experimentation.”
Shergill, who originally hails from the world of linear television, with stints at Star (then operated by Fox) and Sony, said that since the medium catered to a broad audience, it resulted in a “homogenized creativity, where [creators] had to stick to certain kinds of storytelling,” but that’s now changing rapidly.
Shergill points to a nearly 400% uptick in viewing of Korean content, a massive take up of Spanish programming, a 100% increase in kids content consumption and a 250% increase in nonfiction and unscripted content viewing from different parts of the world, in recent times, on Netflix India.
Catering to the core market with Indian programming, however, still remains a key pillar for Netflix.
“The one thing that matters to us most is how do you push the known and the familiar,” said Shergill. “You program to the audience taste and you push back on the audience taste and you make them have an acquired taste.”
The strategy for India, therefore, is to have a “deep and broad” range of Hindi-language programming, including commissioned original series and films and licensed films, while also growing documentary and unscripted formats and content in the South Indian languages of Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.
“Netflix is perceived as a global brand, telling global stories and in every country having the kind of impact that it has, but if I just look at the core of Netflix and what the service is designed as, I would say that it is so well designed to be a very Indian service, because if you look at Indian audiences, we are such a heterogeneous audience, the tastes that we have, culturally, we are such a diverse population,” says Shergill.
“I feel Netflix is so culturally relevant to India, because we are geared up as a service to program to different formats, genres, tastes, moods,” Shergill added.
The executive said the demand for streaming content has also led to an expansion in the creative talent pool.
‘Pakistan fastest growing market for YouTube’
“Pakistan is one of the fastest growing markets for YouTube globally,” said Marc Lefkowitz, company’s director of partner development and management for Asia Pacific.
KARACHI: YouTube Pakistan brought out the big guns on Thursday evening for its maiden Brandcast — a loud show of song and dance with hundreds of young content creators gathered under one roof to dazzle the deep-pocketed advertisers of the country’s “No. 1 online video and music platform”.
Beginning with a short concert and effusive presentations by popular YouTubers, the event featured what seemed like sales pitches to advertisers by top YouTube officials.
“Pakistan is one of the fastest growing markets for YouTube globally,” said Marc Lefkowitz, company’s director of partner development and management for Asia Pacific.
As many as 62 per cent of online Pakistanis between the ages of 18 and 24 reported watching YouTube at least once a month, he said. Citing a study conducted by parent company Google and research firm Kantar, he said 78pc of internet users in Pakistan said YouTube was the video platform they went to when they wanted to watch shows and online content.
The same study showed 76pc of internet users believed YouTube helped them “learn something new”. Three-quarters of internet users claimed the video platform carried content that helped them “dig deeper into their interests”.
In a separate interaction with reporters after the event, Mr Lefkowitz said the number of YouTube channels making Rs1 million or more in revenue has gone up 110pc on a year-on-year basis. There’re currently more than 5,400 YouTube channels with more than 100,000 subscribers in Pakistan, up 35pc on an annual basis. More than 350 of these channels have more than a million subscribers.
In his presentation and subsequent talk with the press, Google Country Director Farhan Siddique Qureshi said YouTube has become the centre of modern life as it fulfils educational, professional and entertainment needs of ordinary people, he said.
He urged businesses to capitalise on the “deep connections” that YouTube users have built on the platform to remain at the “top of (their) minds” for achieving a “greater sales uplift”.
A case study shared with the press showed Nestle Fruita Vitals was experiencing low sales in a few cities. It decided to test which advertising channel — TV or YouTube — would yield “efficient results”. YouTube surpassed TV’s reach on the third day, the case study showed. The on-target reach of YouTube versus the TV campaign was three times higher while its cost was 70pc lower, it said.
PR minders of the firm kept hovering over the YouTube representatives during the press briefing in an apparent attempt to stop them from oversharing. Mr Qureshi didn’t state any numbers with respect to the size of YouTube’s business in Pakistan, its earnings, payments to local content creators or taxes.
In response to a question about the perception that local content creators don’t make as much money as their counterparts from other parts of the world, Mr Qureshi said advertising rates are auction-based, not fixed.
Jazz and Huawei Successfully Accomplished Nationwide Rollout for FDD Massive MIMO in Pakistan
Jazz and Huawei have commercially deployed FDD (Frequency Division Duplexing) Massive MIMO (Multiple Input and Multiple Output) solution based on 5G technology in a large scale. The solution has been developed and tailored to the needs of boosting network capacity and user experience.
This customized solution has been the first launch of Jazz and Huawei, supporting Jazz leap into the 4.9G domain. This innovative solution has tremendously enhanced the network capacities along with superior 4G experience for the valued subscribers. The average network traffic increased by around 30% and the average single user speed increased by around 170%.
Jazz’s Chief Technology Officer, Khalid Shehzad said, “We see that our customers are increasingly using high-bandwidth applications which resultantly puts pressure on existing network capabilities. Massive MIMO essentially allows us the freedom to provide more data at greater speeds, enabling our customers to use the enhanced services on their existing 4G devices. Network speeds will be faster than ever, which will significantly improve the end-user experience. Jazz is committed to developing an ecosystem that supports the government’s Digital Pakistan vision and the evolving technology needs of individuals and businesses.”
Huawei provides the industry's unique intelligent beam scheduling and intelligent beamforming technology which are native for 5G. Massive MIMO improves the capability of the handsets to transmit more efficiently. Currently Huawei FDD Massive MIMO has been deployed in more than 70 networks and over 20,000 units have been shipped. The level of collaboration between Jazz and Huawei goes beyond to more domains. For example, the first 400G transmission, the first core network cloudification, the first large-scale commercial use of VoLTE, and the first 3G sunset city. In Pakistan, Jazz maintains a leading position in network performance and innovations, and it leads the development of the entire ICT industry.
Pakistan’s ‘largest’ OTT platform streams original content from Hollywood, other studios
Titled SHOQ, the streaming app allows registration of up to five devices with two concurrent sessions
Pakistani Internet users can opt from various packages ranging from Rs8 per day to Rs120-299 a month
KARACHI: Pakistan’s “largest” Over-The-Top platform, SHOQ, offers an interesting lineup of original local and international shows, a Pakistani telecom official said, describing the platform as the country’s “ultimate entertainment solution.”
SHOQ is a subscription-based streaming app that works on the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) model and PTCL-provided TV dongles, enabling users to avail multi-screen services from any place, anytime through smartphones, tablets, laptops, Android Smart TVs and Android TV Boxes.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), a subsidiary of e& that was formerly known as the Etisalat Group, officially launched the platform in late January, aiming to provide a “superior” and “immersive” viewing experience to all data users in Pakistan.
SHOQ allows registration of up to five devices with two concurrent sessions at a time. It is available for all Pakistani data users on “customer-friendly” daily, weekly, and monthly bases, according to Pasha. Customers can opt from various packages ranging from Rs8 per day to Rs120-299 a month.
“We have original content with rights from Hollywood studios like Warner, Sony, etc. The content ranges from blockbuster movies to highly rated and acclaimed series,” Amir Pasha, a PTCL group director, told Arab News on Tuesday.
“We believe that SHOQ has what it takes to be the country’s ultimate entertainment solution.”
Pasha said they believed a high-quality local OTT entertainment service was much needed that was not only affordable but also customized to local tastes and preferences, given the increasing Internet penetration in Pakistan.
While the platform does not offer Indian content, the official said it did have a wide range of local and international content that was liked by the subscribers.
“Content acquisition is a continuous process to add value to the platform and for customer retention. We will continue R&D (research and development) and will bring in more content that matches the customer requirements and entertainment needs,” Pasha said.
“We are focusing on local content in addition to international content that will allow SHOQ to gain more market [share]. SHOQ penetration is on the positive growth trajectory and we believe it will take some time to strengthen our footprint across the country.”
SHOQ also hosts one hundred most-watched local and international live TV channels, Pakistani movies and originals to cater to the entertainment needs of the entire family, according to a PTCL statement.
“We are pleased to support the development of Pakistan’s largest OTT platform, powered by PTCL,” Khalifa Al-Shamsi, the CEO of e& life, said at the launch of SHOQ in January.
“We are confident that this new service will add great value to the people of Pakistan. e& will continue to support the PTCL Group, especially in its new chapter of creating a digital future that empowers every person in society to create innovative digital services and tap into new customer segments, building success upon success.”
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