ISLAMABAD: The GSMA and the Pakistan Business Council (PBC) on Friday expressed concern over the ‘digital emergency’ situation in the country and appealed to the government to adopt policies conducive to its long-term connectivity.

Taking to the social media platform Twitter, GSMA Head of Asia Pacific Julian Gorman shared a news report on Jazz’s revenue and said, “Outstanding results but alarming for sustainability of the mobile industry and further network investment. Achieving the digital Pakistan vision demands immediate fiscal policy intervention such as spectrum licence extensions.”

In a tweet to Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, PBC said: “Internet and cellular connectivity are essential for promoting financial inclusivity and formalisation of the economy. We urge the govt to adopt policies conducive to long-term growth of the country through affordable, reliable and widely available connectivity.”

Meanwhile, the telecom sector has written a letter to the Ministry of Information and Technology and Telecommunication that an unannounced “digital emergency” has been declared in the country’s telecom sector, and many areas were even facing connectivity load-shedding recently due to prolonged power outages, and the companies were unable to operate towers at full capacity for a long period due to high fuel cost.

The letter referred to the GSMA research report that stated the average revenue per user (ARPU) was very low in Pakistan and the country was ranked at 233 out of a total of 238 nations in ARPU.

“It is estimated that the four telcos had a net profit of $188 million in 2021, but if major regulatory changes are not made, the total loss of the sector could be around $287m by the end of 2023,” said a senior executive of a telecom company.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2022

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