Find Telecommunication expertise in Pakistan

Pakistan’s telecommunications and internet industry underwent a significant transformation in the first decade of the 21st-Century through the implementation of reforms such as the Telecom Deregulation Policy and Cellular Mobile Policy. While the industry remains among the lesser developed nations in terms of its overall telecoms infrastructure, the growth rate for mobile phone subscriptions has climbed at a very impressive rate, where  subscribers jumped from 2 million in 2002 to 120 million in 2012 (Budde, 2012). Future plans focus on improving infrastructure for the broadband and wireless internet subsector.

Overall, the privatisation and expansion of this industry led to the creation of over one million jobs directly, indirectly and induced. The most recent figure suggests there were approximately 1.3 million employees in the sector in 2007 (Econstats, 2007). This constitutes a rough estimate of 3% of the total workforce when using that year’s figures (Trading Economics, 2007). Telecoms accounted for 2.7% of Pakistan’s GDP in 2009 compared to 1.7% in 2003, producing revenue of Rs. 323 billion in 2012, 1.57% of the country’s GDP (Pakistan Economic Survey, 2013).

The main fixed line operator and Pakistan’s largest landline operator, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), was partially privatised in 2006 after the government sold a third of the company to three private investors. This opened the telecoms sector up to much needed competition, resulting it having the greatest growth in mobile penetration rates in the entire Commonwealth, growing 68.6 per cent during the 2012/13 fiscal year (Pakistan Economic Survey, 2013). PTCL acts in accord with government policies and carries out any tasks provided by the Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) and the Pakistan Supreme Court.

Main mobile providers are PMCL (the mobile subsidiary of PTCL), Zong (CMPak), Ufone, Telenor Pakistan, Mobilink and Warid Telecom. In terms of internet services, there are roughly 130 ISPs operating in Pakistan, with the main providers being PTCL, Wi-Tribe, Qubee, COMSATS and Wateen (a subsidiary of Warid Telecom). These companies are connected via the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK), which aims to provide assistance with infrastructural and regulatory issues. However, lack of bandwidth continues to be a problem, with most companies relying on PTCL as the sole provider.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is responsible for regulating and maintaining telecommunications’ operators in the country under the 1996 Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act. One of its main aims is to regulate the sector in order to “promote and protect the interests of telecommunications” users in Pakistan.

PTA created the Pakistan Internet Exchange (PIE) in 2000 in order to provide a single base that various ISPs could connect to, acting as one of the major bodies of internet filtering alongside the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the MoIT. In 2008, the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance (PECO) was created and from 2010 in particular, these bodies concentrated on regulating internet access and website traffic users in accordance with government guidelines.

ICT training includes the National ICT R&D Fund, which has the vision “To transform Pakistan’s economy into a knowledge-based economy by promoting efficient, sustainable and effective ICT initiatives through synergic development of industrial and academic resources”. The government intends for the organisation to reinvest a percentage of the telecommunication industry’s revenue in order to help fund academic partnerships, develop human resource management and to encourage IT skilled workers to relocate to Pakistan.

Telecoms and Internet Service Providers organisations in Pakistan
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