KARACHI: Pakistan is one of the lowest-ranked countries in the world when it comes to an access of citizens to fast mobile internet services, suggested the United Nations’ data on Monday – indicating that the country is yet to take measures to achieve sustainable economic development on the back of information and communication technology.
The country fetched 156th rank among the 192 member states of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), said a report, titled ‘The State of Broadband 2015: Broadband as a Foundation for Sustainable Development’.
The data said 5.1 out of 100 fellow citizens have mobile broadband subscriptions.
The report was released by the Broadband Commission, established by the ITU and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The commission has released a number of high-level policy reports, best practices and case studies.
Pakistan ranked 135 in the fixed-broadband subscriptions per 100 capita. Only 1.1 of 100 is enjoying broadband subscriptions in the country, the report said.
However, it ranked 83 in internet availability to households. Total 13.2 percent of households have an access to internet, while 13.8 percent of individuals are using internet.
The UN summit is being convened from 25-27 September in New York as a high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly for the adoption of the agreed sustainable development goals (SDGs).
The member states recognised ICTs as a means to of implementation of all SDGs.
“The spread of information and communication technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress and to develop knowledge societies,” said the report.
A half of the seven billion mobile cellular subscriptions – to be reached in 2015 – will be for mobile broadband, it added.
“However, the digital divide is proving stubbornly persistent in terms of access to broadband internet, including the challenge of extending last-mile access to infrastructure to remote and rural communities.”
According to the commission, the governments may cut taxes and import duties on telecommunication / ICT equipment and services to make broadband more affordable.
It said the sale of SIM cards posted a significant growth during 2005-2009 as Islamabad brought down the sales tax rates on SIM cards “to a quarter of their preceding level”.
The commission recommended several other supply- and demand-side measures, including co-deployment, sufficient availability of quality spectrum, expanding network coverage, development of technical standards to improve economies of scale and quality of services and lowering prices.
For the demand-side measures, the report advised that the policymakers should ensure availability and affordability of broadband-enabled devices and services for poor and at-risk households, development of local content and broadband applications, promoting effective ICT skills and literacy.
“Governments and regulators should carry out a detailed review and analysis of the shortfalls in their own markets and the regulatory options available to address them,” the commission said.
“Countries with more innovative ‘fourth-generation regulation’ are generally associated with higher levels of mobile broadband penetration and growth – ITU has found that growth in services has happened most rapidly where regulatory enablers (eg industry consultations, infrastructure sharing) have been put in place to leverage the latest technologies and innovations.”