Islamabad: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in collaboration with LIRNEasia, Sri Lanka has organized a 2-day international event named “Expert Forum on Mobile 2.0 Applications and Conditions”. The Opening Session of this forum held here. Minister In charge MoIT, Sardar Muhammad Latif Khan Khosa was the chief guest of the Opening Session while Secretary Cabinet Division, Abdul Rauf Chaudhry, Secretary MoIT, Naguib Ullah Malik, Chairman PTA, Dr. Mohammed Yaseen, Member (Finance) PTA, Syed Nasrul Karim Ghaznavi, Member (Technical) PTA, Dr. Khawar Siddique Khokhar were also present on this occasion. CEO LIRNEasia, Dr. Rohan Samarajiva gave welcome speech to the participants of the forum. Delegations from around 20 countries including Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Thailand, Philippines and others comprising of 40 telecom experts, members of the Asian regulatory agencies, researchers, representatives from IT & telecommunication sector and media persons also attended the forum.
On this occasion Minister In charge MoIT said that the telecom sector of Asia has shaped in such a way that it has become exemplary even for the West, however, their remains a dearth of research and learning activities among ourselves. He said it is hoped that such efforts would go a long way in building stronger relationships among countries and providing a platform for sharing each other’s experience and learn from them.
Mr. Khosa said that the Government of Pakistan has been taking keen interest in the development and growth of the telecom sector and is taking every possible step to take it to even better position. He said, in this regard, the Government is working strenuously on policy making and is taking initiatives especially for broadband proliferation and beyond voice services in Pakistan. He said that we are targeting far flung areas of Pakistan for provision of Broadband services and very recently President of Pakistan has inaugurated a broadband project in an underserved district of Pak Patan. A number of Fiber Optic projects are also underway and we have recently introduced services like easy payments and IP TV for local telecom users, he added. The Minister In charge MoIT said that PTA has a pivotal role in all such achievements of telecom sector of Pakistan. He said, on behalf of the Government of Pakistan, I assure you of our sincere cooperation and best wishes for a successful and fruitful deliberation.
Chairman PTA, Dr. Mohammed Yaseen, in his welcome note, said that Mobile 2.0 Conditions and Applications is an appealing subject especially in case of Pakistan where local mobile sector has been revolutionized in less than half a decade with the less than a million subscribers in 2004 and today we are standing at 97 million and would be hitting 100 million subscribers in another 3 to 4 months. He said that the revenues of mobile companies have grown tremendously and today stand at Rs. 212 billion (2009). The total foreign investments that poured in Pakistan since 2007 have been more than US$ 4 billion maintaining an average share of 28% in total FDI of Pakistan. ARPU’s of the industry have become more stable and stand at US$ 2.5.
The Chairman said that mobile sector is one of the major contributor in tax collection in Pakistan and only in 2009 Rs. 112 billion have been submitted to the government kitty which is more than 7% to 8% of total tax collected. He said that Pakistan is one of the few first ones in the world to implement Mobile Number Portability (MNP). He said, the operators are introducing world class value added services to its customers including mobile banking, mobile internet, music libraries, utility bills payment, GPRS services, voice messaging and stock market updates are to name a few. However, we are at the moment facing lower data revenues in the sector, he added.
In reference to the Expert Forum, Dr. Yaseen said that this meeting mainly concentrates on the topic “beyond voice” an area on which globally countries are working in order to increase their revenues. He said that since Pakistan’s mobile Voice market has become quite mature we are also looking towards beyond voice zones now. “I expect that through this forum’s sessions, we would certainly gain from experiences and researches of the fellow foreign participants. We would like to utilize the work of participants while devising our own strategies for improving data services and beyond” he said.
It may be mentioned that the expert forum is aimed at providing an open platform to the telecom experts from around 20 countries to share their views, ideas and research regarding latest developments in various paradigms of cellular mobile services. The event also focuses on the opportunities for delivery of more-than-voice services (such as m-payments, m-government, m-commerce) through mobile platforms, explore the possibility of using mobile as the “triple play” in the developing world. It invites deep dialog among participants by using the extensive research already done by LIRNEasia in emerging Asia and Pakistan’s experience of successful growth in telecom sector.
Telecom policy experts from different countries in South Asia and South East Asia have also joined their Pakistani counterparts in this forum which shows the confidence of foreign participants in the potential of Pakistan’s telecom market.