5G is paving the way for an entirely digitalized and attached world. 5G goes far ahead of what we think of today as cell phones. We are at the beginning of a revolution in the world of associated things, with the first steps toward implementing 5G which is the latest generation of telecom networks. 5G pledges to basically perk up cellular competence, providing improved broadband power and enhancing mobile power and data rates. In fact, 5G is 10 to 50 times quicker than the preceding generations of cellular networks. Now while talking about Pakistan, in the last three years the telecom industry’s market size in the country has developed to $16.9 billion after drawing $1.2bn in foreign direct investments.
Therefore, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom is planning to launch 5G technology in 2023. The ministry revealed that the target has also been greeted by foreign investors as well. Recently while giving a presentation on the sector’s performance to Prime Minister Imran Khan, the ministry has categorically said that in order to meet the future necessities of digitisation across the country and the commencement of future technological requirements such as 5G, projects have been launched for “deep fiberisation’ by the Universal Service Fund (USF) to enlarge the telecom services and internet even in distant and backward areas of Pakistan. For this very purpose, during the period 2018-22 more than 10,000 km optical fibre cable will be laid across the country for provision of high speed internet to 1,175 towns and the union councils. The ministry further explained that USF projects have sheltered over 1,800km of unserved road network including highways and motorways in Balochistan.
The importance of the deep fiberisation project is also very significant. Minister for IT and Telecom Syed Amin ul Haq stated that the government is emphasizing on growing exports of IT services up to $5bn and attain this target by the end of 2023. The government has also pledge to ensure reasonably priced and high speed internet to people residing in small towns. If it is done in the same way, there will certainly be more opportunities of freelancing particularly for the females living in the remote areas. This will certainly be the right way to promote women empowerment. It is also pertinent to mention that in 2020-21, the export of IT services grew 47pc to $2.1bn.
USF has played a far-reaching role in telecom infrastructure growth in Pakistan which further guarantees the future digital growth. The targets have been attained by contracting out 43 projects amounting to Rs29bn in unserved and underserved remote areas. These areas also included over 65 districts in Southern Balochistan, previous FATA and interior Sindh while covering the populace of over 25 million. The ministry is also focusing on forthcoming spectrum auction for AJ&K and GB in order to launch next generation mobile services. This step will assist to develop the telecom and broadband services in these areas.
Connectivity was being extended to secondary and remote areas; the Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) has commenced projects in these cities and towns to expand IT expansion focal points in the areas. Eight software technology parks have already been established.
PSEB will set up 32 more technology parks in secondary and remote areas under public- private enterprise that will aid progress of software advancement as well as will create employment opportunities for comprehensive growth. It is also an achievement that 40 IT companies have been listed at the Pakistan Stock Exchange.
Apart from these initiatives, in order to meet the challenges and necessities connected to the growth of IT and telecom, numerous policy proposals have been taken including the endorsement of the first ever Cyber Security Policy for Pakistan. In this regard, the draft of Data Protection Bill, NITB Act, Social Media Rules, PECI Rules, APT Rules, Personal Data Protection Bill, Digital Pakistan Policy 2021, Pakistan Cloud First Policy 2021, Freelance Facilitation Policy, Startup Policy, Artificial Intelligence Policy and Block chain & Digital Ledger Policies have been concluded. Another foremost accomplishment is that the National Telecom Corporation (NTC) has become a lucrative entity while making a profit of Rs504m the following year and in 2020-21 its profit was Rs423m. the entity also provided services to more than 450 official websites to guard them from cyber attacks and hacking. While moving ahead with the same spirit, the IT industry in the country has the ability to attain the targets while competing with the international markets.