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

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Comment by Riaz Haq on November 29, 2016 at 7:37am

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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 19, 2016 at 8:20am

#Netflix to launch streaming of popular #Pakistan TV plays

http://tribune.com.pk/story/1266895/netflix-launches-first-ever-pak...

Streaming pioneer Netflix has finally launched Pakistani drama serials.

Netflix members will now be able to watch Humsafar, Zindagi Gulzaar Hay and Sadqay Tumhare on the global streaming service.

Pakistani cinema owners all set to lift self-imposed ban on Indian films

“Netflix California portal picks and launches its first ever Pakistani drama serials Humsafar, Zindagi Gulzaar hay and Sadqay Tumharay. Big milestone for Pakistan digital industry. Congratulations Team Humsafar, Team Zindagi gulzar hay and Team Sadqay Tumharay,” director Momina Durraid wrote on Facebook.

The television giant launched in Pakistan in January this year.

California-based Netflix, which began as a mail-order DVD service but is now producing award-winning original content alongside its offering of older shows and movies, launched in 2007. Now, 70 million subscribers pay a monthly fee for unlimited service.

Television giant Netflix comes to Pakistan

The company has been shifting from recycling old shows and movies to producing more original content, with its shows such as the award-winning “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.” However, availability of original content could differ from country to country due to local licensing deals.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 25, 2017 at 6:33pm

#Dutch #broadband firm to invest $10m in #Pakistan to expand Corporate #LTE

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1417700/dutch-broadband-firm-invest-10...

Augere Pakistan, a Dutch wireless broadband company, has announced that it will invest $10 million in Pakistan in a bid to upgrade infrastructure and expand advanced internet services for the corporate sector.

The company has been in Pakistan since 2010. It would “become the first company to deploy Corporate LTE [equivalent to 4G] in 11 cities of Pakistan,” Chief Executive Officer Jamal Nasir Khan said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Initially, they are investing $3 million in upgrading the existing internet infrastructure in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Rawalpindi by the end of 2017.

The company has already been providing 4G services in these cities. Later on, they would deploy the LTE (long-term evolution) infrastructure in another 11 cities, he said.

Currently, the LTE service is available to mobile phone users only. Soon, businesses will get the uninterrupted high-speed bandwidth and connectivity essential to run their operations.

“Augere will be capable of delivering speeds of up to 100Mbps per customer,” he said. Khan added the company had developed an understanding with mobile phone companies for sharing their antenna-towers in order to provide the new services.

Responding to a question, he said mobile phone companies still lacked the capacity and the capability to cater to the needs of corporate clients as they did not only need high speed, but also demanded consistency and consumed large data.

The LTE service is designed to meet high-speed connectivity and data transfer requirements of the corporate and SME clients, especially in tier-2 cities “where the corporate clients demand high capacity, low latency, unlimited volume, high spectral efficiency and flexible asymmetric service profile for large and small-scale businesses,” he said.

The company has a vast experience of serving some of the biggest names in the world of telecom, internet service providers, banks, fast-moving consumer goods, media houses and small and medium enterprises.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 22, 2018 at 4:58pm

#Pakistan acquires another #communication satellite. #DTH https://tribune.com.pk/story/1666876/1-pakistan-acquires-another-co...

Pakistan marked on Thursday another significant milestone in space technology by securing a geostationary orbital slot along with previous frequency resources ensuring a continuous and expanding foothold in the extraterrestrial world.

The Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) inked a deal with China Great Wall Industry Cooperation (CGWIC) to acquire communication satellite PakSat Multi Satellite (PakSat-MM1).

PakSat MM-1 is believed to prove to be another major asset to initiate and expand various communication services including Direct to Home (DTH).

It will help Beijing and Islamabad to strengthen their bilateral ties not only through the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative and but also by enhancing cooperation and capacity in the field of science and technology.

The signing ceremony was held at the Planning Commission of Pakistan and was attended by the federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal, Chinese ambassador Yao Jing among other senior officials.

On February 28, the communication satellite PakSat-MM1 arrived at Pakistan’s geostationary orbital location of 38.2 East.

The satellite will be a valuable addition to our geo-stationary fleet, the Suparco spokesperson said.

“The project has paved the way for new communication service which will significantly aid in the socio-economic development of the country” the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, Suparco will collaborate in a business venture with CGWIC on cost and revenue sharing basis via a commercial contract.

Previously, the successful implementation of Pakistan’s first communication Satellite (Paksat-1R) programme laid the foundation for further collaboration between the two countries.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 17, 2019 at 7:41am

Cybernet #Pakistan and PEACE Cable International Network Company Ltd is set to increase Pakistan's #internet #infrastructure capacity by 96 terrabits per second with the country's first carrier-neutral, open-access #submarine #cable system. #bandwidth https://www.dawn.com/news/1476691

Pakistan and East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) Cable International Network Company Ltd and Cyber Internet Services Pvt Ltd (Cybernet Pakistan) signed the agreement on April 16 in Cairo, a press release said. A Memorandum of Understanding for the project was inked in 2018.

The PEACE cable system, with landings in Pakistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya and France, will provide critical interconnectivity to the economic corridors of Asia, Europe, and Africa.

It is a 12,000-kilometre-long, privately owned cable system "that provides an open, flexible and carrier-neutral services for its customer", the press release said. The first phase of the project will connect Asia, Europe and Africa. PEACE is slated for completion in the first quarter of 2020.

The statement said that the project would enable carriers to extend gigabit speeds to the local population and will be instrumental in meeting the exponential growth in bandwidth demand from mobile and fixed broadband users in Pakistan and neighbouring countries.

"The system design will adopt the latest 200G technology and WSS technology, which provides the capability to transmit over 16 terrabits per fiber pair, servicing growing regional capacity needs," the statement said.

Cybernet is the PEACE Cable Landing Station Partner in Pakistan and will be deploying PEACE Pakistan Cable Landing Station (CLS) and managing its operations. Cybernet will also be building Pakistan’s first carrier-neutral cable landing station for PEACE cable by March 2020 in Karachi.


Cybernet Pakistan CEO Danish Lakhani, while addressing a ceremony in this regard said that the submarine cable system would have an "outsized impact on the digital landscape in Pakistan".

"With its ultra-low latency design, the cable will cut down transit time between Pakistan and France to under 90 milliseconds — dramatically improving the response time of internet-based applications and the experience of our users," he explained.

"The cable will also bolster the redundancy of our country’s connectivity to the rest of world," the CEO added.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 20, 2022 at 4:44pm

IT Ministry Launches Optical Fiber Cable Projects Worth Rs. 5 Billion

https://propakistani.pk/2022/06/02/it-ministry-launches-optical-fib...

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) has launched three more projects of Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) worth Rs. 5 billion for six districts in Sindh.

The projects will provide high-speed connectivity to 4.2 million people in Larkana, Hyderabad, Badin, Qambar Shahdadkot District, Jamshoro, and Badin, and will be completed in 16 months. The contract for the projects was signed between the Universal Service Fund (USF) and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL).Speaking at the signing ceremony, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said in line with the vision of Digital Pakistan, the MoITT has been running diverse projects through the Universal Service Fund (USF). These projects are playing a huge role in the socio-economic development of the locals.

Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin uI Haque speaking at the occasion said that the ministry aims to connect all the citizens of Pakistan through the USF as digitalization has become a priority for businesses and communities.

Under its Next Generation Optic Fiber (NG-OF) Network & Services program, the USF has contracted over 16,000 km of OFC to benefit 31.5 million people across the country by providing access to information and e-suite services, such as e-healthcare, e-finance, e-agriculture, and e-education.

The minister added that the MoITT is enabling the rural and remote communities to compete better and support economic development for a positive impact on the national GDP while contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Comment by Riaz Haq on December 28, 2022 at 8:39pm

Jazz and Huawei Successfully Accomplished Nationwide Rollout for FDD Massive MIMO in Pakistan

https://www.lightreading.com/jazz-and-huawei-successfully-accomplis...

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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 23, 2023 at 8:05am

Here is How Much Internet Pakistanis Consumed in 2022

https://propakistani.pk/2023/01/17/here-is-how-much-internet-pakist...

Every Pakistani broadband user consumed 81 GB of data in FY22, which showed double-digit growth of 11 percent as compared to the average yearly internet consumption which stood at 73 GB per person in FY21.

During the period under review, 8,970 petabytes of mobile data usage was reported in Pakistan, indicating a 31 percent increase from the previous year. Five years ago, mobile data usage in the country stood at 1,262 petabytes.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 25, 2023 at 10:47am

Pakistan’s ‘largest’ OTT platform streams original content from Hollywood, other studios

https://www.arabnews.pk/node/2273296/pakistan


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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