87% Pakistanis have access to internet at cheapest rates in South Asia
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has claimed that Internet services are available to 87 percent of the population in Pakistan at the lowest rates in the region.
The demand for Internet services grew immensely in Pakistan during the lockdown in 2020 due to increased use of social media and communications applications, video streaming, and online sessions. However, the quality of the services remains comprised and has been termed as ‘poor’ in many areas by users.
Reportedly, a supportive regulatory environment, effective competition, the presence of innovative international telecom operators, and the continued resolve of the regulator to harness advanced technologies has resulted in widespread availability of Internet services to over 87 percent of the population at one of the lowest rates in the region; and Mobile link data prices have declined by only 0.70 percent of the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, which is well below the UN Broadband Commission’s recommendation of less than 2 percent. ------------------------------
------------------------------ Transformation of Lifestyles During the Pandemic
Where historic lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic slackened economic activity, vibrant telecommunication systems played a pivotal role in ensuring the availability of essential services to the community. In a way, the pandemic actualized the true potential of broadband services and transformed lifestyles. All daily activities related to education and health, and virtually every other sector of the economy have been shifted to digital dimensions, creating a huge nationwide demand for telecommunication services.
Rising to the occasion, the PTA, while being supported by other telecommunication operators, has ensured connectivity and network resilience; offered low-priced, discounted broadband services; disseminated free advisories on the pandemic to its entire subscriber base; and facilitated the Government of Pakistan (GoP) in the disbursement of financial assistance to the needy.
The report revealed that 98 percent of Pakistan’s households own a mobile phone each, while the penetration of mobile services reached 81.1 percent at the end of October 2020, with 172.3 million mobile subscriptions. Broadband Penetration Grows by 42.2 Percent
Broadband subscriptions also showed impressive growth trends of 17 percent during FY2020, crossing the 90.1 million mark in October 2020 mark, whereas 4G subscriptions registered an exponential 60 percent growth in the FY2020. As a result, the total broadband penetration in Pakistan reached 42.4 percent by the end of October 2020.
With the expansion of 3G and 4G services, the FY2020 also had an increase of 77 percent in data usage.