Tech and Telecom

Can New Satellite Open 20,000 Jobs in Pakistan And Curb Outflow of Foreign Exchange?

Written By: Sadaquat Liaquat

The start of the Direct To Home (DTH) service can open around 20,000 jobs in the private sector in a very short time and prevent the outflow of millions of USD to India.

Pakistan is left behind in media innovation and job creation in media, despite almost all good colleges and universities are offering mass communication and other media related degrees. Across the world, DTH is the chain between broadcasters and TV audiences, whereas in Pakistan a cable operator is wedged in the middle. With DTH, signals are transmitted from direct-broadcast satellites.

And while we harp on about 5G and being a wireless nation, our broadcasters are still reliant on cable and the lobby that ensures that status quo.

The benefits of DTH are manifold: greater service coverage, more channels, better signal quality, multiple language options, the option to only pay for the channels and services that the user wants, and value-added options such as parental lock and both pre-booked and impulse pay per view.

In 2015, local media reported that there are around 2.5 million DTH users in Pakistan, concentrated across Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. DTH services of Indian companies such as Dish TV, Reliance Sundirect, SDN, Tata Sky, and Videocon were reported as being sold through local agents working under the radar, earning millions of USD per year through illegal channels according to a PEMRA spokesperson.

Understandably, this is not a point of concern for authorities in Pakistan. Whereas, it is estimated that DTH service will generate 1,800 direct and another 16,000 jobs in Pakistan and save out flow of FE (USD200 million-300 million USD) from Pakistan (creating jobs and stoppage of FE is also not on the priority list of concern quarters). The biggest investment in the media industry is if DTH is launched.

Regulators say, that DTH services will democratize access to real-time audience analytics, which can help channels negotiate better with advertisers and impact their channel ratings. It hurts to channels that have allegedly relied on their backdoor relationships with rating agencies, hurting the business model of rating agencies and cable operators. The democratization of viewership data from DTH services gets in the way of the media oligopoly.

Absar Alam, ex-Chairman PEMRA, said, “DTH is an inevitable platform for progress in media services and SC (supreme court) had instructed PEMRA not to halt auctioning of DTH licenses. The ones who are opposing and running campaigns against DTH, the ones who have approached the courts had never opposed Indian DTH”.

Delay in DTH adoption benefits the existing leaders/manipulators. Loss to the state resulted as the Paksat-1R satellite launched in 2011 had special transponders for DTH, the satellite is ending its design life in 2026 without serving DTH. In March 2018, the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) and China Great Wall Industry Cooperation (CGWIC) signed a contract for the acquisition of the communication satellite Paksat Multi-Mission Satellite (PakSat-MMI).

Among the range of arguments in favor of this acquisition, it was said that the Paksat-MMI would prove to be another major asset to initiate and expand various communication services including DTH. Satellite completed his life awaiting DTH services launch.

Now, a new Satellite is coming this year (Jun 2024) with BSS (special capacity for DTH) with no DTH in sight, who will use this and blamed?

Some people say that DTH is being stopped by institutions and industry people with vested interests. Which, sometimes starts sounding correct. I would suggest someone should take responsibility and find out the truth behind the label of VESTED INTEREST or incompetency of Regulator vis viz blame game.

The writer is a competent executive with around 40 years of experience in management and technical work and has done a number of projects all over the country. He has worked with almost all leading telecom companies in Pakistan including suppliers and operators. He remained actively involved in telecom, broadcasting, and IT projects for the last few years in rural/urban areas and training institutions. As a faculty member of Military College of Signals a constituent of NUST, he taught engineering courses for 4 years. 

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  • With due respect. I dont see dth future in presence of iptv and smart tv applications. Dth is dying technology. Iptv is future

  • DTH is dead on arrival. Even Pakistani websites are making money by online streaming. The amount of dollars required for 1 transponder from satellite companies is huge and no body wants to invest in it.

  • TV broadcasting shifts from DTH to IPTV due to limitations. IPTV leverages the internet for versatile, on-demand viewing, marking the decline of traditional services.

  • It is a good initiative towards development in the communication sector if Pakistan launches DTH services.

  • This technology should be launched for larger interest of people of Pakistan. Definitely by launching new technologies jobs will be created which which in turns play a pivotal role for well being of people.

  • The high power multi mission satellite will provide the best internet facilities across Pakistan and improve broadband and cellular connectivity.

  • Launching DTH services in Pakistan expeditiously is imperative as it not only fosters employment opportunities but also contributes to retaining financial resources within the country.

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