Telecom revenue surges 129pc amid lockdown

Published January 16, 2021
Contribution of the telecom sector to the national exchequer increased by 129 per cent in the fiscal year ending in June 2020 compared to a year ago owing to Covid-19 lockdown. — File photo
Contribution of the telecom sector to the national exchequer increased by 129 per cent in the fiscal year ending in June 2020 compared to a year ago owing to Covid-19 lockdown. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Contribution of the telecom sector to the national exchequer increased by 129 per cent in the fiscal year ending in June 2020 compared to a year ago owing to Covid-19 lockdown, the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) said on Friday.

Sharing its Annual Report 2020, PTA highlighted that the surge in demand for telecom services due to lockdown resulted in significant growth not only in the subscriber base but also in the usage of telecom services.

Data usage by the end of December 2020 was 4,498 petabytes (PB) compared to 2,545PB in December 2019 — a growth of more than 77 per cent, the report noted. One PB is equal to 1,000 terabytes (TB).

Data usage increased by 77pc to 4,498 petabytes

“This substantial growth would not have been possible if the networks were not upgraded,” PTA said, adding that currently the country has international bandwidth connectivity of 3.1TB and with 47,000 cell sites, of which 90pc are 4G-enabled sites.

Broadband subscribers crossed 90 million in the country by the end of 2020, showing a growth of around 8pc against 2019.

Total broadband penetration across the country reached 42.2pc. Telecom networks are currently available for 87pc of the population.

The report said that PTA was working with operators to increase their network coverage for remaining 13pc unserved people of the country. Total teledensity in the country currently stands at 82pc, the report added.

Due to higher business volumes, telecom sector emerged as a prominent contributor to Pakistan’s economy in FY20 compared to FY19 despite the economy being under pressure due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The sector contributed Rs278 billion in FY20 against Rs121bn in the previous fiscal year.

The PTA annual report highlighted that in the last five years, total broadband subscription in the country grew by 175pc.

Despite the negative impact of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) across the economy due to global lockdowns, the share of telecom sector was 25pc or $623m in the total FDI made in the country during the fiscal year ending on June 2020. Total investment made by the local operators were $734m with a growth of 14.25pc in FY20 against the previous fiscal year.

Total revenues of the sector reached Rs537bn in FY20, mainly generated by mobile sector.

The report claims that financial gains have been equally enjoyed by telecom consumers. “The affordability of telecom services in Pakistan have improved over the years and currently the per “GB broadband” prices are as low as $0.20 which is amongst the lowest in the region,” it added.

The regulator said government revenues increased manifold with tax collection on handset imports due to Device Identification & Registration System.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2021

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