April 27, 2010

PTA Expert Forum Stresses upon the Importance of Devising Strategies for the Growth of Broadband Sector in South Asia

Islamabad: The Expert Forum Meeting on “Mobile 2.0 Applications and Conditions” has concluded that the policy makers and service and application providers of South Asian countries should focus on strategies for the improvement of broadband penetration in the region. There must be multiple approaches to deal with the issues faced by the Information Communication Technologies (ICT) industry so that the usage of mobile phones “beyond voice” should be encouraged.

The two-day Expert Forum Meeting arranged by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in collaboration with LIRNEasia, Sri Lanka continued on 27th April 2010 comprising four sessions followed by panel discussion among the key participants of the event. Researchers and regulatory agencies representatives from Sri Lanka, Kenya, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, India, Philippines, Bhutan and other countries gave presentations on different topics based on the theme “Beyond Voice”.

During the sessions of the forum, speakers and presenters explored the different aspects of the theme and shared their own experiences and presented various case studies. The topics covered in these sessions included Easing Payments, Making Markets Efficient, m-Government, m-commerce, m-social networking, Conditions for Mobile 2.0, Market Entry, Success story of Mobile Number Portability (MNP)in Pakistan and Quality of Service (QoS) Experiences. At the end of the sessions, a panel discussion moderated by Chairman PTA was conducted to review the proceedings and findings of the whole forum. The participants of the forum appreciated PTA applications and suggested that these should be introduced by other countries as well.

It may be mentioned that Mobile 2.0 describes the next wave of mobile usage - use of mobiles for ‘more-than-voice’. Mobiles are increasingly becoming payment devices which can also send, process or receive voice, text and images. Use and awareness of Mobile 2.0 applications among ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ (BoP) users is still poor.

In 2008, only 10% of the Pakistan BoP knew about the financial services available in mobile platform. Awareness ratings of m-government and m-health services were lower. Actual usage of any of these services was by less than 1%. Still as their economic constraints lessen, it is likely that they will gradually increase their communication-related spending. Instead of paying for fat pipes to connect their homes to a host of entertainment and data services (quadruple play) most of them will invest in new terminal devices and applications that would improve their communicative interactions in the Mobile 2.0 framework, incrementally increasing the amounts paid for the communication services they currently consume.

Earlier, addressing the Opening Session of the Expert Forum Minister In charge MoIT, Sardar Latif Ahmed Khan Khosa 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 that PTA has a pivotal role in the achievements of telecom sector of Pakistan.

Chairman PTA, Dr. Mohammed Yaseen, in his welcoming note for the Opening Session, 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. Dr. Yaseen said that “beyond voice” is 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. “We would like to utilize the work of the participants while devising our own strategies for improving data services and beyond” he added.


Khurram A.Mehran

Director (PR)