Pakistan's Internet Traffic Jumps Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

Internet traffic in Pakistan has surged 15% amid COVID-19 lockdown, according to Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA). This spike has occurred in spite the fact that Netflix and YouTube have reduced their bandwidth requirements during the current health crisis. Netflix says it has cut its bandwidth use by 25% without sacrificing quality.  Google's YouTube video platform has decided to temporarily change the quality of all videos on YouTube to standard definition.The increased traffic is mainly due to people working from homes. Pakistan has nearly 80 million 

broadband subscribers as of now.

PTA:

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:

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/YouTube:

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.

Summary:

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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Views: 61

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 23, 2020 at 5:34pm

How #COVID19 is fuelling the growth of the stay-at-home economy #StayHome
https://bit.ly/2Z1vEDr

https://twitter.com/wef/status/1264330401318875137?s=20


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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on June 20, 2020 at 4:23pm

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-apac/country/insights-pakis...

Google's “Insights for Brands” in #Pakistan. Searches are surging for #COVID19, "healthy diets", "fast delivery", "gym at home", "Intermittent fasting", "climate change", "electric cars", "clean air", 7 in 10 Pakistanis using YouTube every month. #Lockdown https://nation.com.pk/20-Jun-2020/google-releases-pakistan-s-search...


“Pakistanis and their smartphones are inseparable -- always on the lookout for the best experiences and deals within their vicinity and at the same time seeking authoritative information during these trying times,” said Faraz Azhar, Industry Head for South Asia, Google Asia Pacific. “Our research found rising levels of consumer sophistication, interest in more sustainable products and services, and a move towards a healthier lifestyle as some of the biggest drivers of behavior in the last 12 months. Also, digital video continues to boom with local content on YouTube representing Pakistan’s favorite online destination.”

In the newly released report, Google outlined five key trends that are shaping how Pakistanis search as well as their curiosity on the impact of reduced human mobility on the environment:

1. Increasingly sophisticated consumers

Consumers expect Search to understand the intent behind what they need and deliver the best, most helpful answers. They want high-quality products that are available with a convenient digital experience. 4 in 5 Pakistani consumers research products online before a purchase, and they switch between online search and video. They also want quick access to products and services: 138% growth in “near me” searches and 1.5X increase in “same day delivery” queries between 2018 to 2019. ‘Fast delivery’ searches increased by 1300% and online grocery delivery searches increased by 300% when the pandemic began.

Pakistani student spends 'golden, happy' days in China amid pandemic

2. Towards sustainability and conscious consumption

A combination of the state of the world and an overall rise in awareness has seen the rise of the environmentally conscious consumer. Over a one year period these searches have risen sharply across Pakistan: “climate change” by 1.5X, “electric cars” by 1.5X, “reusable” by 1.3X, and “cimate change” by 1.5X. Users were also curious about the visible impact on air quality and pollution levels, with searches for ‘clear skies’ increasing by 300%; ‘clean air’ by 225%; and ‘clear water’ by 217%.

3. Digital video continues to boom

Video streaming and sharing platforms are where Pakistanis get their fix of information, entertainment, news, and sports. The primary drivers are a combination of affordable data combined with the proliferation of devices and now platforms. 7 in 10 Pakistanis use YouTube every month, with searches related to “with me” increasing 150%, “teeli” by 108% and “vilage food secrets” by 168%.

4. The healthy lifestyle choice

While Pakistan has a rich and diverse culinary tradition, there has been a rise in searches for alternate diets and meal plans predicated around well-being. Searches for “daily exercise” are up 1.6X. Searches for “vegetarian cuisine”, “healthy supplements” and “intermittent fasting” have risen 1.5X. Meanwhile searches for “super food” are up by a whopping 767% and “HIIT” by 600%.

5. COVID-19 implications

With COVID-19 restricting the movement of people outdoors, Pakistanis have started looking for ways to start (or continue) their usual physical routines indoors with ‘HIIT workout’ YouTube searches growing by 600%, ‘gym at home’ by 125%, and ‘home workouts’ by 80%. With more people confined indoors, interest in mental health and well-being has also become an important factor for Pakistanis, with a surge in searches for ‘meditation’ (+56%) in March this year.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 9, 2020 at 4:05pm

#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.-

https://www.dawn.com/news/1567191

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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 18, 2020 at 11:05am

#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...

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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 21, 2020 at 4:14pm

#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-...

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.

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