2015 proved to be a positive year in telecom sector from many angles. The country has achieved many milestones in the field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as compared to last year. Let’s look at the both achievements and failures of Telecom Sector of Pakistan during 2015:
Major Milestones during 2015:
Pakistan has witnessed a huge blow in mobile broadband services; as it took a year to increase 3G/4G penetration in the country after it’s arrival in 2014. According to PTA stats, there were only 13,498,677 million 3G/4G subscribers in Pakistan in 2014. Interestingly the number increased to 21,658,155 million by the end of November 2015. Unfortunately, Telecom Analysts deem the sector’s performance in 2015 “below expectations”. Here is graph of 3G and 4G subscribers till November 2015:
- IT Exports reaches $2 billion.
- e-Commerce market also got doubled in size and reached $60 million
- Many start-ups are also launched in the country and raised more than $100 million in overseas investment
- 2015 also witnessed the first-ever merger of Mobilink and Warid Telecom
2015 Telecom Review: Ups and Downs of Telecom Industry
Disappointments during 2015:
The required growth was also not maintained by the telecom industry during 2015. As due to the bio-metric verification system introduced under the National Action Plan (NAP), the operators lost its subscribers base and mobile penetration percentage decreased; 139 million to 114 million. Other failures that contributed to the overall slow paced growth of the industry include:
- High taxes paralyzed the telecom industry as it discouraged the operators to invest
- PTA failed to announce the auction of the remaining available 4G spectrum despite the Finance Ministry requests to do this auction so that a budgetary support of around Rs65 billion can be created for the federal government
- The long-awaited Telecom Policy is just approved by ECC but still in process of implementation
- Also no Cyber law has been devised by the authorities.
- Unfortunately, Pakistan still remains among the 10 least connected countries in ICT Development Index (IDI) of ITU
The government and policymakers need to re-think and re-set their priorities and so that a more friendly environment can be created that can invite FDI and contribute to national progress. Telecom Policy 2015 is about to implement; let’s hope good from it in coming years.