While the auction of 3G and 4G licenses in Pakistan was an important step, it was still a small one towards a digital economy and development and well being of citizens through Information and Communication Technologies, said Dr. Ismail Shah, Chairman, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, during his opening notes at INet Islamabad, a three day conference jointly organized by PTA and ISOC in Islamabad.
INet Conference, which is being hosted for the first time in Pakistan, is primarily aiming to bring together regulators, private operators and domain experts from Pakistan and abroad to discuss the opportunities of digitalization of Pakistan through ICT sector.
Dr. Shah during his keynotes candidly admitted that there is still a lot to be done in ICT sector of Pakistan but with introduction of 3G and 4G services, broadband penetration jumped from below 2 percent, just a year and half ago, to over 10 percent to date.
He said that this uptake in broadband usage, with-in just 18 months, can be considered as a good starting point to reap the added benefits that can be achieved through ICT sector in almost any sector.
Dr. Shah revealed that 3G services are currently available in over 250 cities across Pakistan where previously there was no or little internet access.
Chairman PTA said that with broadband internet now available to over 20 million users, Pakistan is all set to take on development projects in e-education, e-agriculture, e-health, digital economy and general well being of citizens.
Dr. Ismail Shah emphasized that government should realize that ICT sector is a driver for development of all segments and functions and hence it needs proper attention. He said that with ample broadband access in all major parts of the country, government can and should employ ICT for the development of e-education, e-health and various other govt. backed projects.
Chairman PTA also urged telecom operators to think out of the box and to offer innovative new services to masses, that will not only help them increase their narrowing margins but will bring along civil and social benefits to the society.
Chairman said that PTA, as a regulator, is doing its best to bring regulatory changes to meet changing market demands.
He said that PTA alone can’t achieve anything and the same is true for the industry. He said that it’s the need of the time for all stake holders, including Ministry of IT and Telecom, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Interior, Education Ministry, Water and Power Ministry, private sector, academia and civil society to work together for the digitalization of the country with an aim to better the lives of the citizens.