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As per the report of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Pakistan’s telecommunications and digital technology sectors are undergoing transformative changes, which are driven by the development of comprehensive regulatory frameworks and measures counting infrastructure sharing, spectrum management and refarming, commercial facilitation and ease of doing business, implementation of the Device Identification, Registration and Blocking System (DIRBS), introduction of Over-The-Top (OTT) Regulatory Framework, enlarged network and enforcement of stringent Quality of Service (QoS) regulations.

These attempts are strongly tied to addressing problems stemming from inflation, low Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), growing fuel costs, and the substantial capital investments required for cutting-edge technologies like 5G. Pakistan presently, stands at the crossroads of an exciting digital revolution. By implementing inventive strategies, no doubt the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is leading the nation towards a digitally transformed future.

Looking back over the last five years, statistics showed that total investments in Pakistan’s telecom sector have surpassed the US$ 5.7 billion mark, with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows standing at US$ 1.4 billion—a testament to investor confidence., Pakistan as of September 2023, boasts an impressive 130 million broadband subscribers, reflecting a remarkable 110 per cent growth over the last five years, and has attained a penetration rate of 54.5 per cent, as against to 29 per cent registered in 2018, showing huge growth potential. Furthermore, Pakistan now over the same five-year period, has 192 million telecom subscribers, signifying a 23 per cent growth.

In fiscal year 2022-23, Pakistan’s telecom sector generated Rs 850 billion in revenues, marking a 17 per cent growth from the previous year and demonstrating the sector’s resilience amid challenges such as inflation, high business costs, and economic slowdown. Notably, the sector contributed a substantial Rs 1,279 billion to the national treasury from FY2019-23. By developing national telecom standards, revisiting existing rules and regulations, and advancing standardisation in telecom infrastructure provision, experts aim to create a more efficient and compatible digital ecosystem that spurs competition. Recognising the value of international collaboration, PTA pursues proactive engagement at global and regional forums to flaunt its achievements and attract foreign players to Pakistan’s telecom and ICT market. Pakistan’s digital transformation is a concrete vision being actualised through strategic initiatives. Presently it is said that 5G services in Pakistan would be introduced by July-August 2024. Before the introduction of 5G services, the optic fiber network has to be enhanced. Presently statistics show that only 6,000 mobile towers are related to optic fiber cables (OFC), out of almost 56,000 towers across the country. In order to promote the local mobile industry, the federal government has planned to grant a 3 percent Research and Development (R&D) allowance to mobile manufacturers.

Sources recorded that the decision will be implemented starting from the next fiscal year. The R&D allowance will be increased from 3 to 8 per cent in the upcoming years. Pakistan has assembled about 9 million mobile phones worth approximately $1.5 billion during the last 2 years. Presently almost 35 dissimilar mobile phone brands were actively contributing to the local mobile phone manufacturing industry. Our country has exported nearly 250,000 mobile phones and earned approximately $200 million in foreign exchange. It is also important to note that Pakistan is the 7th largest market of cellular users in the world with 191 million cellular connections. Pakistan imports most of its mobile phones. Actually, we need to manufacture them locally and develop an industry to export made-in-Pakistan phones. The Government of Pakistan has played a pivotal role in supporting the growth of this industry through offering various measures.