STAFF REPORT ISB: Pakistan has scored low in mobile broadband infrastructure despite high use by subscribers, reveals a recently conducted survey on Pakistan.

“Pakistan scored 2.09 out of 10, ranking 25 out of the 26 developing telecom markets in mobile broadband connectivity,” the statistics of the study sponsored by Nokia explain.

For measuring the score, the study titled “Connectivity Scorecard 2013” took into account key criteria such as consumer infrastructure, consumer usage and skills, business infrastructure and business usage and skills, public sector infrastructure and public sector usage and skills, to measure the level of mobile broadband connectivity in Pakistan.

The findings of the study have been shared during a Nokias “Connected Pakistan – 3G, 4G Perspectives” conference recently held in Islamabad.

“The study shows mobile broadband users in Pakistan increasingly demand high-speed mobile broadband and has significantly improved network coverage across the country,” said Danny Atme, General Manager, Networks, Nokia Pakistan.

The number of WCDMA subscriptions in Pakistan will overtake GSM subscriptions by 2019, and there will be 103.4 million WCDMA subscriptions in Pakistan by the end of 2019, representing about 58 per cent of the mobile market, according to Ovum forecasts.

It also predicts that the adoption of 4G will be more modest than for 3G for the foreseeable future, with the number of LTE subscriptions in Pakistan reaching about 6.6 million by the end of 2019.

Matthew Reed, Practice Leader Middle East and Africa, Ovum, said: “Although Pakistan is a late-comer to mobile broadband, the rollout of 3G services that is now underway in the country following the recent award of new licenses, combined with the increasing affordability of 3G-enabled devices as well as demand for Internet access and other data services, means that there is likely to be a substantial shift in Pakistans mobile market from 2G to 3G over the coming few years.”

In his remarks, PTA chairman Dr. Syed Ismail Shah said: “The Nokia conference has brought out excellent insights from various eco-system players on how to achieve further mobile broadband penetration here. The government is committed to enabling the operators to take the mobile broadband subscription base to a new high. Together with players such as Nokia and its advanced 3G and 4G mobile broadband technologies, we are confident that Pakistan will be able to provide high quality mobile broadband services on a par with leading services around the world.”

He also said that priority was being given to use next-generation ICT services, particularly mobile broadband, to enable socio-economic development and spur growth.

He reiterated the governments resolve to support and develop the telecom sector with investor and consumer friendly policies and said, “there exists a strong demand for 3G as operators have started providing such services while consumers look excited about the new enabling technologies.”

He said the regulator was also committed to enabling the operators to take mobile broadband subscription base to a new high together with players such as Nokia and its advanced 3G and 4G mobile broadband services.

Member Telecom at Ministry of Information Technology Mudassar Hussain highlighted that on the policy front, the government had invited industry and public consultants to be partners in its decision making, and in this context a review of telecom policy was also in the offing.

He was of the strong view that if this mechanism is developed on sustained footings it would significantly lead the stakeholders to reap more benefits of this 3G, 4G in the country.

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