The National ICT Research and Development (R&D) Fund has planed to develop an ‘Advanced Technology Programme in Broadband Access Technologies’ aimed at supporting the growth of broadband sector through a R&D centered ecosystem at national level.
Sources in the industry said that the national programme will support broadband sector not only for commercial activities but it will also produce kick-start knowledge-based value creation in this sector.
The programme is a collaborative initiative that promotes collaboration and use of best practices around a specific focus area to drive business results.
The institutions will provide free of cost space for the programme while the ICT R&D Fund will provide seed funding for sustaining the programme operations for the first three years including grants for equipment and for some initial R&D projects.
Besides, the individual R&D projects and other activities will be distributed across the programme partners including telecom operators, commercial organizations, academic institutions and others. The utilization of the infrastructure, equipment and facilities under the umbrella of the proposed programme will be open to all industry stakeholders, government agencies, academic institutions and researchers.
The programme is aimed at high economic and social returns within the shortest period of time through increasing utility of broadband services by customer of different walk of lives.
The fund’s board, in this regard, has already identified a number of priority themes including telecom, energy, agriculture and others.
Within the Pakistani telecom sector, the broadband sector has experienced the highest growth during the last few years. In 2010-11 Pakistan recorded 46.2 percent growth in the number of broadband subscribers and was ranked fourth worldwide in this regard. (In comparison Sri Lanka and India were ranked 11th and 14th, respectively).
Currently, the total number of broadband subscribers in Pakistan is estimated around 1.7 million but its sub-sector is expected to exhibit similar growth rates during the next few years.
Presently, there are more than 10 broadband service providers competing in the Pakistani market to get a share of this rapidly growing subscriber base. Various access technologies currently deployed include wireless technologies such as WiMAX and EvDO and wired technologies such as DSL, HFC and FTTH. In terms of technology adoption the Pakistani service providers have been the leaders in the region for quite some time.