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Telecom sector added Rs278bln to govt kitty in FY20

Telecom sector’s contribution to the national exchequer jumped 129 percent to Rs278 billion in FY20, compared to Rs121 billion in FY19, largely due to an unprecedented spike in the usage of services during virus restrictions, a report said on Friday.

“A surge in demand for telecom services due to lockdown resulted in significant growth not only in subscriber base but also in the usage of telecom services. Today, data usage stands at 4,498 Peta Bytes (FY2020) as compared to 2,545 Peta Bytes (FY 2019) showing a growth of over 77 percent,” stated Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) Annual Report 2020.

It said this substantial growth would not have been possible if the networks were not upgraded. The country currently has international bandwidth connectivity of 3.1 Tera Bytes and around 47,000 cell sites, of which 90 percent are 4G enabled sites.

According to the PTA report, in the last five years, total broadband subscription in the country grew by 175 percent. Today broadband subscribers have crossed 90 million showing a growth of around 8 percent in FY2020. Pakistan has a total broadband penetration of 42.2 percent in FY2020.

“The telecom networks are currently available for 87 percent of the population and PTA is working with operators to increase their network coverage for remaining 13 percent unserved people of the country,” the report said adding, “Total teledensity now stands at 82 percent with over 172 million mobile and 2.2 million fixed-line subscribers”.

In 2020, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) across the economy was affected due to global lockdowns; however, telecom sector made an iconic share of 25 percent ($623 million) in the total FDI made in the country.

Total investment made by the local operators grew by 14.25 percent and a total of $734 million was invested locally.

Total revenues of the sector reached Rs537 billion in FY 2020, which was mainly generated by mobile sector.

The financial gains were equally enjoyed by telecom consumers, the affordability of telecom services in Pakistan improved over the years and currently per GB broadband prices were as low as $0.20, which was amongst the lowest in the region, it added.

Similarly, due to Device Identification & Registration System (DIRBS) introduction government revenues increased manifold with tax collection on handset imports. The local manufacturing of handsets had enlivened the telecom ecosystem, with growth in local 4G device manufacturing crossing 34 percent.

Pakistan experienced trials of 5G services, which were one of the few firsts in the South Asia.

“PTA is aiming for spectrum auction of LTE, VoLTE services in 2021 as a precursor to 5 G. The regulator is also gearing up for auction of spectrum for high speed broadband services in AJK & GB,” the report said. PTA this year awarded 110 licenses for different telecom services and issued 91 Commencement of Service certificates to the operators, the report added.

PTA also conducted QoS surveys across Pakistan for data, voice and SMS services and the operators were directed to take corrective measures where they underperformed, the report said adding that PTA also conducted a number of successful raids against illegal VoIP setups this year to curb grey telephony. The

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