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Internet Users Cross 20 Million Base in Pakistan
Source: dailytimes.com.pk
Source Date: Saturday, October 29, 2011
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: Pakistan
Created: Oct 31, 2011

Pakistan Internet users have been on the rise with accelerated pace, crossing 20 million benchmark with a greater percentage accessing the Internet via mobile phones, said Freedom on the Net 2011 in its report on Friday.

The report cited International Telecommunications Union (ITU) saying that estimated users have been surging significantly on monthly basis however, the Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK) estimated a far lower number of Internet users at only 10 million.

On the other hand, some of the local think thanks said the Internet users have crossed almost 23 million at present with surging number of broadband and mobile Internet users.

The report stated that the Internet is available in all the major cities of the country, as well as in many remote areas. The majority of people use dial-up connections whereas broadband Internet is growing speedily in big cities.

With the explosion of mobile-phone use and the gradual spread of broadband Internet in Pakistan, access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) has increased, as have citizen journalism and online activism, the report said.

Pakistan does not yet have a third generation (3G) network, which is also a hindrance for the spread of broadband Internet and other wireless services. Remote areas of the country have no access to broadband, and are left with only a slow, intermittent dial-up connection, rendering any meaningful online activities very difficult.

The number of broadband users reached almost 1.5 million. Pakistan is ranked as one of the top countries recently that registered high growth rate in broadband Internet penetration, Point Topic, a global broadband tracker said in its report published a few months back.

The country, which has seen a boom in its telecom sector and information technology services in recent years, recorded around 46.2 percent growth of subscribers and is placed fourth on the ranking list.

It is top in the list of South Asian countries lagging behind its neighboring states such as Sri Lanka that spots 11th place with its broadband penetration growing in 30s while India lags at the 14th place in terms of broadband growth.

There more than 50 ISPs including 10 broadband companies operating in different parts of the country under their licence at various charges.

These service providers have brought advanced technology to deploy their network including Wimax, DSL, FTTH and HFC. The number of operators with variety of technology has been expanding the base of technology users with competition, showing the falling rates of service by every passing month.

The different service providers include PTCL, Wateen, WiTribe, Qubee and Comsat. The broadband packages are lowest in the world ranging from Rs 250 to Rs 3,000 per month depending on the speed and utility of data by the subscribers. However, the stiff competition among the operators resulted in constant decline and multiple offers to the users.

Pakistan has already developed and expanded its technology highways with international undersea cable for its future demands. Presently, there are four undersea cables connecting Pakistan to rest of the world including PTCL’s owned SMW3, SMW4 and IMEWE and one with TWA.

The domestic Internet highways or domestic fibre backbone providers are PTCL, Wateen, Mobilink and Multinet.

Internet has been evolving in its different technological modes through high-speed broadband, which has become basic need of the people for the purpose of information, education, entertainment and business. Hence, it is an indispensable source that plays a vital role in different aspects of the masses’ lives.

Pakistan’s digital growth prospects have begun to look brighter lately. Besides having a large bilingual (English and Urdu) Internet using population as the estimated viewership of blogs has reached nearly 3.4 million.
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