Pakistan and East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) is 96 Tbps (terabits per second), 15,000 km long, privately owned submarine cable that will originate in Karachi, Pakistan and run underwater all the way to Marseilles, France via multiple points in the continent of Africa. It is being built as part of Digital Silk Road sponsored by China. Cybernet and Jazz are the local landing and global connectivity partners of PEACE Cable System in Pakistan. It will enable high-speed access to a variety of content, cloud computing, gaming and video streaming platforms.
The laying of PEACE undersea cable in Pakistan's territorial waters will begin in March, following government approval this month for Cybernet, a local internet service provider, to construct an Arabian Sea landing station in Karachi, according to Nikkei Asia
. The Mediterranean section of the cable is already being laid, and runs from Egypt to France. The 15,000 kilometer-long cable is expected to go into service later this year.
|Mobile Broadband Subscriptions & Data Growth in Pakistan|
A 820-kilometer long China-Pakistan fiber optic cable
has already been laid between the city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan in the south and the Khunjerab Pass, China in the north and operational since July, 2018. It is currently being extended to Karachi for connection to PEACE cable.
When completed, PEACE cable will be Pakistan's 7th highest bandwidth, lowest latency undersea connection to the global Internet system. Currently, there are 6 international submarine cable systems connecting Pakistan, including SMW3, SMW4, SMW5, IMEWE, AAE-1 and TW1. PTCL is the landing party in Pakistan for SMW3, SMW4, AAE-1 and IMEWE cable systems, operates cable landing stations in Karachi. SMW3, SMW4 and IMEWE land at Hawksbay, while AAE-1 lands at Clifton. Transworld Associates Private Limited (Transworld, or TWA) privately owns the TW1 cable system and is a member of the SMW5 consortium. Both TW1 and SMW5 land at Hawksbay and terminate at Transworld's cable landing station in Karachi.
Pakistan has experienced a huge surge in Internet traffic during the COVID19 pandemic. Cellular Mobile Data usage in the country has soared from 2,545 petabytes in 2019 to 4,498 petabytes in 2020. Total number of broadband subscriptions in the country has doubled from about 45 million in 2017 to 90 million in 2020, according to the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority
* Project will pave way for establishment of cross-border OFC network along CPEC routes
Pakistan’s key decision-making body, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), approved Rs 37.9 billion worth Pak-China Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) Project Phase II.
According to a report published by Gwadar Pro, the project will pave the way for establishment of Cross-Border OFC Network (Khunjerab-Karachi) Along China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) routes. The project will provide alternate path for international connectivity through Northern Border of Pakistan with China and would transform Pakistan as a Digital Gateway of regional connectivity.
The Covid-19 response and other Natural Calamities Control Program was approved by the ECNEC at the cost of Rs 70 billion as federal share. The project includes National Health upgradation program, National program for Water and Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), COVID-19 interventions for less developed areas.
The ECNEC also approved the Project for “Dualization and Improvement of Old Bannu Road” at the total cost of Rs 17,230 million from federal Public Sector Development Programme (2020-21). The project envisages dualization of existing 02-lane old Bannu road measuring 83 km in length from Gaandi Chowk to Sarai Naurang (8km) and Domail to Krapa on N-55 (75-kilometre) to 4 lanes, with 7.3 metres wide carriageway on either side.
The scope of work also includes extension of existing culverts & bridges, construction of retaining walls along with drainage / erosion works and allied facilities. NHA shall execute the project. ECNEC considered and approved a summary regarding construction of Gwadar-Ratodero Road Project (M-8) sponsored by the Ministry of Communication and executed by National Highway Authority (NHA) at a rationalized cost of Rs 38,026.28 million. It also approved the project in view of its strategic importance as it will facilitate connectivity for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects through improved road linkages.
A summary was presented before ECNEC regarding provision of Advanced Skills Development through International Scholarship Phase-1 for Master and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs to be executed by the Higher Education Commission (HEC). The project is part of a Prime Minister Knowledge Economy Task Force Initiative which will enable our youth to access higher education opportunities in well-reputed international universities. ECNEC approved the project at a rationalized cost of Rs. 13.361 billion.
Reposition and optimise branch network while providing more self-services to customers as intimidating branch environment keeps the customers off from the branches, hence to provide them with more self-service digital channels and secure banking at their fingertips.
Not to be surprised as Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, is embarking on what it calls the biggest transformation in its history, as it unveils a suite of new technology products in an aggressive drive to enter the lucrative Big Tech sector and has dropped the word “bank” from its corporate building and is now called “Sber” while replacing its tellers with super ATMs and offering online taxi and food services.
Build platforms, not just products and services
Let go of “legacy” technology and gradually move towards secure green banking adoption while providing financial services to customers anytime, anywhere and on any device. The banks are still clinging to their legacies and need a two-pronged strategy to rip-and-replace the legacy and adopt new technology and tools to thrive.
Open banking with fintech firms is the sustainable model for banks as today quite a few banks are also divesting some of their capital into other businesses. Digital platforms are the answer to such experiments while initiating new services or collaborating with other businesses.
Data as a value generator tool
Create and promote “data driven” financial services based on artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms defined with the regulatory guidelines working with structured and unstructured data to provide clear and in-depth insight of your customer from both behavioural and compliance perspective. This domain is still untapped in almost all the local banks, while only a few have embarked this journey.
Data works as fuel to the business and financial services that take the banks to the next level. This is the differentiating factor that is inhibiting the local banks from innovation as compared to peer countries who have worked hard on their data strategies and programmes and are reaping the fruit today.
Enter the cloud and managed services evolution
Using on-demand cloud computing to reduce operating costs while increase the availability to 99.XX% as many banks already have steered their staff collaboration over the cloud during COVID-19 work from home (WFH) safety measure. Investments in cloud infrastructure and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) are visible in the past few years, however, more conducive regulatory guidelines are to be formulated for such ventures.
Security by design
Cybersecurity comes a part and parcel of all processes based and data driven technology. Essentially, customer do desire fast and secure financial services. Security spends will remain on the rise with the increase in the ransomware attacks. While WFH and online transactions will keep rising as per experts, the dark side of the digital and online banking will remain to be active more than ever.
The combat against phishing scams and schemes, security breaches, illegitimate transactions, has taken a paradigm shift in the banking sector as treasure trove of data is readily available to the hackers to activate their goals. Effective implementation of DDoS, intrusion, threat and malware detection tools, multi-factor authentication (MFA), restricted WiFi usage would somewhat secure.
To B or not to B
The controversies of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency have blemished the true essence and value of blockchain, hence still being subject to skepticism, carries a huge potential for non-financial transactions between the financial institutions and other stakeholders. As per Statista, the blockchain market value share of banks is 29.7% in 2020.
With Biden having ruled out conflict with China, QUAD has lost steam - if there was any. Except China to now given extraordinary push to Digital Silk Road in South Asia - to isolate India, strategically!
PEACE cable will drastically reduce the time taken to transfer internet data
As part of the broader Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China is set to lay the final stretch of a cross-border fiber optic cable in Pakistan that will create the Digital Silk Road, serving the geostrategic interests of both countries, Nikkei Asia reported.
The fiber cable will link to the Pakistan East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) submarine cable in the Arabian Sea, to service countries participating in BRI, and Europe.
The PEACE cable will provide the shortest direct internet route between participating countries and drastically reduce the time taken to transfer internet data.
The report stated that the cable is currently being laid between Rawalpindi and the port cities of Karachi and Gwadar. "The $240-million project, which is in partnership with China's Huawei Technologies, was approved by the government last week," it added.
The laying of sea cable in the country's territorial waters will begin in March, following government's approval this month to construct an Arabian Sea landing station in Karachi.
"The Mediterranean section of the cable is already being laid, and runs from Egypt to France. The 15,000 kilometre-long cable is expected to go into service later this year," it said.
Observers see this as a strategic move to circumvent international telecommunication consortiums dominated by Western and Indian companies.
The report stated that some BRI projects have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic and debt crises in partner countries, including a $6.8 billion railway project in Pakistan. "Part of Beijing's response has been to step up digital projects and the development of communications infrastructure."
The report acknowledged that in recent months, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority has accelerated efforts to improve Gwadar's connectivity with major road and rail upgrades.
Pakistan is also looking for an alternate link to the internet through China. At present, most Europe-bound internet traffic from China feeds through terrestrial cables traversing Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan.
Pakistan is served by seven submarine cables at present, four of which come out of India, according to Telegeography, a Washington-based telecommunications market research company. These cable networks have been developed by consortiums that include telecom companies from India, Egypt and Pakistan.
The PEACE cable is expected to help reduce Pakistan's exposure to internet outages from damaged submarine cables by providing an additional route for internet connectivity.
Eyck Freymann, author of One Belt One Road: Chinese Power Meets the World, told Nikkei that the BRI is evolving to place less emphasis on traditional heavy infrastructure, and more on high-tech cooperation and digital services.
"Beijing wants to dominate the physical infrastructure underlying global communications, particularly the internet," he said. "This will give it an advantage in internationalizing its tech sector and pursuing future tech-related deals with partner countries."
The ambitious multi-trillion-dollar BRI initiative (or the new Silk Road), announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to boost connectivity and cooperation between East Asia, Europe, and East Africa. It is expected to significantly boost global trade, cutting trading costs in half for the countries involved, according to expert estimates.
VERY THREE years African and Chinese politicians gather at a diplomatic jamboree known as the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC). The summits, which attract more African heads of state than annual UN gatherings, are waypoints in China’s long journey on the continent. Over the past three decades it has become the pre-eminent partner for many African countries. Its importance will be apparent again in 2021 at the next FOCAC meeting, the eighth, which is due to take place in Dakar, the capital of Senegal.
Yet the context for this summit is different from that of the previous seven. During the Trump presidency China’s role in Africa came in for increasing American criticism. In 2020 the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, accused China of offering African countries little but “empty promises and tired platitudes”. Though the Biden administration is less likely to use provocative rhetoric, scepticism of Chinese intentions on the continent will nevertheless endure. So the coming year could prove a tricky one for African policymakers, who are already grappling with the fallout from the pandemic.
China’s image in Africa was tarnished last year by the ill-treatment of African migrants in Guangzhou, a port city. That brought condemnation on social media and by African politicians. But, broadly speaking, African views of China are nuanced and resilient. Polling of 18 countries by Afrobarometer, a pan-African research group, released in September 2020, found that an average of 59% of respondents had a favourable view of China—marginally higher than of America (58%). No wonder African politicians are careful not to take sides.
Nor will they see much benefit in speaking out against China over issues such as Xinjiang, Hong Kong or Taiwan. China places great value on the 54 African countries’ votes at the UN and other international organisations. (In 1971 African votes ensured that the People’s Republic of China was admitted to the UN and that Taiwan was expelled.) It will reward those who vote with it and punish those who do not. Officials in Kenya are known to have studied China’s punitive response to Australian criticism of its human-rights records—and fear what would happen if their country did anything similar.
Even if African politicians wanted to speak out against China, few believe Western governments would support them if they did. “The West is unwilling to underwrite the cost of antagonising China,” says W. Gyude Moore, a former cabinet minister in Liberia, now at the Centre for Global Development, a think-tank. “The continent is best served by charting its own course.”
As per the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the achievement comes on the back of government policies, effective competition among telecom operators.
PTA stated that in 2012, there were less than 2 million subscriptions but after the introduction of 3G services, the figure jumped to 16 million in 2014 and 100 million in 2021. The telecom regulator informed that presently 87 percent of the country's population has access to internet/broadband services at one of the lowest rates in the region.
It informed that broadband is provided over 3G/4G networks with an average download speed of 17.7 Mbps and upload speed of 11.3 Mbps (mobile) which is above the speed levels in other regional countries.
It was learned that mobile data prices declined to only 0.70pc of the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita which is well below the UN Broadband Commission’s recommendation of less than 2pc.
PTA said that all four national Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs), SCO, and fixed-line broadband operators including PTCL collectively have broadband subscriptions of over 100 million.
Back in 2010, the Pakistan telecom sector reached 100 million mobile subscriptions, it launched the first-ever biometrically verified SIMs across the country in 2009 and implemented the world’s first open-source DIRBS in 2019.
The report was unveiled at a virtual roundtable organised jointly by GSMA (Groupe Spécial Mobile Association) and the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB).
The report, titled "Achieving mobile-enabled digital inclusion in Bangladesh", said 4G network now covered 95 per cent of the population. Yet, there was still a significant usage gap of 67 per cent as only 28 per cent of the population had 4G connections.
"This suggests a lag between 4G coverage rollout and usage of 4G services. This lag in usage is largely explained by issues related to the affordability of devices, low levels of knowledge and digital skills, a perceived lack of relevance, as well as safety and security concerns."
High sector-specific taxes, a fragmented licensing regime, as well as issues with the pricing and usage restrictions on spectrum have been identified as barriers to expanding coverage.
Bangladesh, however, fares better compared to Nepal and Sri Lanka in terms of 4G connections. Only 17 per cent of the population has 4G connections in Nepal, and 18 per cent in Sri Lanka, according to the report.
India has the highest 4G connections at 63 percent of the population followed by Pakistan.
Bangladesh has 17 crore mobile connections. Of them, nine crore are unique subscribers, giving a penetration rate of 54 percent as of December 2020.
Some 47 percent of subscribers use 2G connections and 25 per cent 3G connections.
The report said internet and digital technology played a key role in helping drive economic growth and societal development in Bangladesh.
Digital technologies, mobile in particular, will be crucial to implementing the government's 2041 Perspective Plan, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and recovering economically in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, the report said.
The Ministry of Information Technology has approved Rs. 8 billion to complete 9 fibre-optic broadband projects that will boost internet speeds and make the Internet accessible to the masses. After a meeting between the Universal service fund’s board of directors, the announcement came by the IT Ministry. The Information Technology minister, Syed Amin ul Haq had directed the projects’ approval to materialise the Digital Pakistan vision, the announcement adds.
People living in remote areas often experience poor internet speeds and experience considerable hardships to improve internet signals due to a lack of Internet network infrastructure. However, measures are underway to bring such areas at par with the rest of Pakistan, including tourist destinations such as Babusar Top, Swat, Karakoram highway and Galyat, where faster internet will become possible through broadband services.
The project will involve laying fibre optic cables and providing broadband services in all 4 provinces, benefiting some 7.5 million people living areas stretching 40,000 km. Approvals were also granted to initiate projects that will ensure 24/7 mobile phone services and broadband on an emergency basis in the Northern areas to promote tourism.
Ensuring faster internet access at a national level and enabling access to telecom/internet technologies through consistent infrastructure investment is a key cornerstone of the larger Digital Pakistan vision. Prime Minister Imran Khan formally announced and inaugurated the Digital Pakistan initiative in 2019 to set the country in the direction of the much needed and awaited tech-enabled future. A task force was also formed to achieve the defined targets named Strategic Reform and Implementation Unit (SRIU).
A $1.7bn electricity transmission line on the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which was begun in December 2018, was inaugurated in a ceremony held in Islamabad and Beijing at the end of last month.
The 660kV Matiari–Lahore high-voltage direct current line will provide Pakistan’s national grid with a new backbone and improve chronic problems with the country’s energy transmission and distribution grids.
The 878km line was financed and built by the State Grid Corporation of China, which will operate it for the next 25 years.
More than 1,300 Chinese and 6,500 Pakistani workers were employed on the scheme.
Hammad Azhar, Pakistan’s energy minister, said the project would bring stability to the country’s power system. Speaking at the online ceremony, he said the project would “enhance transmission capability and bring relief to consumers”.
Electricity generation in Pakistan has increased dramatically in recent years, thanks to the large-scale construction of mainly coal-fired plants funded by China.
As a result the country has an installed capacity of around 37GW and peak demand of only 25GW, although this is growing at a rate of about 5% a year. However the grid is able to handle only 22GW of power, resulting in chronic blackouts and load shedding, particularly in the summer when demand is highest.
However, problems occur in winter as well. In January of this year, the entire country suffered a blackout after a fault at a power station in southeast Sindh province caused the grid to lose its 50Hz frequency, which caused power stations throughout the country to close down.
This makes the reinforcement of the grid, arguably, the single most important infrastructure scheme for the country’s socio-economic development.
Zhang Jianhua, head of China’s National Energy Administration, told those present at the ceremony that the Matiari-Lahore line was the first large-scale transmission project of the CPEC, and would provide “solid assurance” for power transmission in the south and power supply in the north.
Speaking about the economic corridor in general, Azhar added: “The CPEC is of utmost importance for Pakistan. It will enable the country to enhance industrial production, upgrade energy and communication infrastructure and improve connectivity within the region.”
Of Pakistan’s 207 million people, roughly 58 million lacked access to grid electricity in 2018, including 46% of the rural population.
The two-stage study interviewed 4,135 Pakistanis aged between 15-55 in both urban and rural areas.
The study found that 76% of Pakistanis are connected to the internet in the top three cities of the country.
The study further shows 46% of all Pakistanis access the internet every day.
Pakistan is witnessing a digital revolution and most of the citizens are ready to embrace it as more than half the population of the country access internet on daily basis, a study has revealed.
Google and Kantar shared new research “Journey to Digital” about the digital population in Pakistan. The two-stage study interviewed 4,135 Pakistanis aged between 15-55 in both urban and rural areas.
The study found that 76% of Pakistanis are connected to the internet in the top three cities of the country (Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi / Islamabad).
Overall, 66% of internet users are based in urban areas while 47% are based in rural areas. The study further showed that 46% of all Pakistanis access the internet every day.
According to the study, young males are early adopters, who access the internet more than any other group. They are also keener to try new things and need the internet for education and work.
Internet usage surged due to COVID-19, finds the study, as, before the lockdown, 79% of internet users in urban locations accessed the internet daily, which increased by 10% since lockdowns were imposed.
Google Search and YouTube are most popular in Pakistan, said the study. YouTube, used by nearly 90% of all internet users, is the most popular app in Pakistan for streaming music and watching video/TV, and 38% of Pakistan's internet users go to YouTube in the research phase of their shopping journey.
The study also says that one-third of all internet users in Pakistan have made a purchase online and one-fourth of these shoppers have increased their spending during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Pakistan is a witness to the e-commerce boom as 71% of Pakistani shoppers find purchasing products or services online easy, while 66% find it convenient. Another 54% agree that online shopping websites or apps give personalised product recommendations, which is a common question from shoppers.
However, 66% of consumers believe that online shopping is the way forward, and two-thirds of Pakistan online shoppers believe that they will buy products or services online after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Faraz Azhar, Industry Head, Performance, South Asia Frontier Markets, Google explained, “With half of its population on the internet - Pakistan is now online! This is the first time Google and Kantar released a study to understand more about Pakistan’s internet population. But it’s not only about people getting online, this research has uncovered new insights and behaviours that show how COVID is impacting online behaviour and the digital opportunities waiting to be unlocked.”
"More people are coming online in Pakistan, creating a great opportunity for eCommerce businesses - if they are ready to seize it. As we see more exploration of the internet beyond social, e-retailers can capture natural cross-category purchasing on its rise, but only if they have first established themselves and their product offering in an online marketplace," he said.
Trust is also crucial, so helping customers gain confidence by showing them how easy, convenient and personal the e-shopping experience will be critical to continuing the upward rise of eCommerce in Pakistan, Leah Westwood, Client Manager at Kantar added.
DUBAI, UAE, Sept. 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2Africa consortium, comprised of China Mobile International, Facebook, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, stc, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC, announced today the addition of a new segment - the 2Africa PEARLS branch - extending to the Arabian Gulf, India, and Pakistan. This extension will bring the total length of the 2Africa cable system to over 45,000 kilometers, making it the longest subsea cable system ever deployed.
Now connecting three continents, Africa, Europe and Asia terrestrially through Egypt, 2Africa creates unique connectivity by adding vital landing locations in Oman (Barka), UAE (Abu Dhabi and Kalba), Qatar (Doha), Bahrain (Manama), Kuwait (Kuwait), Iraq (Al-Faw), Pakistan (Karachi), India (Mumbai), and a fourth landing in Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar). The new 2Africa branch joins recently announced extensions to the Canary Islands, the Seychelles, Comoros Islands, Angola, and a new landing to south-east Nigeria.
As with other 2Africa cable landings, capacity will be available in PEARLS landings at carrier-neutral facilities or open-access cable landing stations on a fair and equitable basis, encouraging and supporting the development of a healthy internet ecosystem.
To further support a burgeoning global digital economy, the expanded system will serve an even wider range of communities that rely on the internet for services from education to healthcare, and businesses, providing economic and social benefits that come from increased connectivity. As announced in May 2020, 2Africa was planned to directly bring seamless international connectivity to 1.2 billion people. Today, with 2Africa PEARLS, 2Africa will be providing international connectivity to an additional 1.8 billion people--that's 3 billion people, representing 36% of the global population.
Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) will deploy the new system utilizing new technologies such as SDM that allow the deployment of up to 16 fiber pairs, double that of older technologies and bringing greater and more cost-effective capacity.
Beijing is successfully exploiting the need for connectivity in developing countries
Jonathan E. Hillman
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor's digital dimension could become its strongest form of connectivity. In 2018, Huawei Technologies completed the first direct fiber-optic connection between China and Pakistan, which stretches from the Khunjerab Pass to Rawalpindi. The fiber project's second phase intends to run nearly 8,000 km to Karachi and Gwadar, bringing health, education and business services to areas that are currently disconnected.
A Chinese company, Hengtong Group, is also constructing the PEACE Cable, which will connect Pakistan to Djibouti and other points in East Africa as well as France. The cable will include landing points in Karachi, the busy commercial hub, and Gwadar, which is still struggling to attract trade, despite major Chinese investments in its port facilities. The cable's name cannot hide its potential use for Chinese naval forces, which could eventually call Gwadar home.
Chinese surveillance equipment is present throughout Pakistan's major cities. No country has signed more "safe city" agreements with Huawei than Pakistan, according to research by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Some of these projects have encountered difficulties, with cameras not functioning and video footage being leaked. There are also claims that backdoors have been installed in hardware and software. Huawei has denied these accusations and the projects continue.
China's Beidou satellite navigation system, an alternative to GPS, provides both civilian and military capabilities to Pakistan. The former includes location services for phones, fitness bracelets and other consumer devices. Pakistan is the only country outside of China known to have access to the Beidou's military services, which are even more powerful than the civilian version and can guide missiles, ships and aircraft.
It could be argued that Pakistan is already so dependent upon Chinese loans that these deals only strengthen Beijing's grip. But relying on China for digital infrastructure creates altogether new risks. As more of daily life depends on these systems whether fiber optic cables, smart cities or satellites, so does the power of those actors who control them.
The ability to monitor and interfere with Pakistan's digital infrastructure could provide China with intelligence and leverage to use in the future. Will Pakistan's government officials be capable of deliberating away from China's ears and eyes? If they decide to take a position that is at odds with Beijing, will they find their personal information exposed or critical infrastructure disrupted or disabled?
Those living in Pakistan and elsewhere along China's Digital Silk Road should ask some basic questions. Is China offering internet connections that are truly beneficial to both sides or is it instead using controls that favor Chinese content and restrict access to the global internet? What data are "safe city" projects collecting, how is it being stored, and who has access to it? What if China cuts off its access to Beidou services?
The questions also pertain to the evolution of China's Belt and Road Initiative project. Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature initiative is putting a greater emphasis on technology because the economies of many of its partners are under strain and lack the fiscal resources to borrow for large transport and energy projects. It is also part of a strategy to find new markets for Chinese tech companies that are being squeezed out of advanced economies.
Beijing is successfully exploiting the need for connectivity in developing countries
Jonathan E. Hillman
The questions also pertain to the evolution of China's Belt and Road Initiative project. Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature initiative is putting a greater emphasis on technology because the economies of many of its partners are under strain and lack the fiscal resources to borrow for large transport and energy projects. It is also part of a strategy to find new markets for Chinese tech companies that are being squeezed out of advanced economies.
Most importantly, digital infrastructure is widely viewed as the foundation for tomorrow's economies. Especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, countries are trying to connect their populations and expand access to essential online services, from health care and taxes to voting. No one wants to be on the losing side of the digital divide.
Competing with China's Digital Silk Road will require the U.S. and its allies to offer affordable alternatives. They are playing catch-up in developing fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless networks, but in other important areas, including submarine cables, smart cities, cloud computing and satellite broadband, U.S. companies are ahead. Success will require packaging hard infrastructure with services, financing and training as well as setting standards and safeguards to promote the responsible use of technology.
Coordination costs loom large, but several allied efforts are gaining steam. The Group of Seven's Build Back Better World partnership and the European Union's Global Gateway initiative both include a focus on digital infrastructure. Australia, Japan and the U.S. are cofinancing a submarine cable to Palau, and these countries along with India are jointly working on technology and infrastructure as well. The U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council includes a working group that seeks to expand financing for digital projects in developing countries.
Pakistan may be too deeply entangled in China's Digital Silk Road to turn around and chart its own course. Its data, and its future, are increasingly in Beijing's hands. This growing dependency is a cautionary tale for developing countries looking to harness technology. But with half of the world still lacking access to reliable internet, the global connectivity contest is just getting started.
By Debora Brautigam
The BBC misrepresented my views this morning, and I admit I'm stunned. I'm a big fan of the BBC. Living in Taiwan and Hong Kong, in the 1970s doing fieldwork across Africa in the 1980s, I used to listen to the BBC World Service on my shortwave radio and I trusted them to present nuanced and balanced analysis.
Last night I had a call from London. I picked up to find a BBC reporter who wanted my views on Chinese "debt trap diplomacy." Apparently the head of Britain's intelligence service, Richard Moore, had given the BBC an interview in which he said that the Chinese have deliberately used debt as leverage to acquire strategic assets. We spoke for awhile on background and I outlined why this idea had little basis in fact, drawing on my extensive research with Meg Rithmire about the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka and other cases, and that of other researchers. I gave examples from Montenegro, Kenya, Zambia, and other places where these fears have been trumpeted in the media, but without evidence to support them. He said that another reporter would call me in an hour and record an interview.
I quickly listened to the BBC recording (my clip is about 1 hr 50 minutes into the program) and was horrified to find that the only clip they took from the interview was my explanation of the "idea" of debt trap diplomacy and the "conventional wisdom" about the case in Sri Lanka. They completely discarded all the evidence I presented after that about why that conventional wisdom was not correct. Then, they brought in a former adviser to the Trump administration whom he interviewed at some length about the China threat, but again providing no evidence about "debt trap diplomacy" aside from this: "we've charted it globally and it's fairly widespread". She also repeated the claim that the Chinese bring in all their own workers.
The reporter leading the story clearly had his mind made up already about the point of view he wanted to present. My little clip was prefaced by a question I was never asked: "What can we do to combat this?" he said, rather than a question that would have made room for a more balanced discussion of this claim. It all reminds me, rather depressingly, about the widespread belief that the Chinese were acquiring large amounts of land in Africa to grow food to send back to China. I spent three years doing field research on that myth and wrote an Oxford University Press book debunking it. No one makes that claim anymore--not due to me, I think, but simply because a more interesting "threat narrative" has now gripped the media's mind. Sigh.
The narrative wrongfully portrays both Beijing and the developing countries it deals with.
By Deborah Brautigam and Meg Rithmire
The notion of “debt-trap diplomacy” casts China as a conniving creditor and countries such as Sri Lanka as its credulous victims. On a closer look, however, the situation is far more complex. China’s march outward, like its domestic development, is probing and experimental, a learning process marked by frequent adjustment. After the construction of the port in Hambantota, for example, Chinese firms and banks learned that strongmen fall and that they’d better have strategies for dealing with political risk. They’re now developing these strategies, getting better at discerning business opportunities and withdrawing where they know they can’t win. Still, American leaders and thinkers from both sides of the aisle give speeches about China’s “modern-day colonialism.”
China, we are told, inveigles poorer countries into taking out loan after loan to build expensive infrastructure that they can’t afford and that will yield few benefits, all with the end goal of Beijing eventually taking control of these assets from its struggling borrowers. As states around the world pile on debt to combat the coronavirus pandemic and bolster flagging economies, fears of such possible seizures have only amplified.
Seen this way, China’s internationalization—as laid out in programs such as the Belt and Road Initiative—is not simply a pursuit of geopolitical influence but also, in some tellings, a weapon. Once a country is weighed down by Chinese loans, like a hapless gambler who borrows from the Mafia, it is Beijing’s puppet and in danger of losing a limb.
The prime example of this is the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota. As the story goes, Beijing pushed Sri Lanka into borrowing money from Chinese banks to pay for the project, which had no prospect of commercial success. Onerous terms and feeble revenues eventually pushed Sri Lanka into default, at which point Beijing demanded the port as collateral, forcing the Sri Lankan government to surrender control to a Chinese firm.
The Trump administration pointed to Hambantota to warn of China’s strategic use of debt: In 2018, former Vice President Mike Pence called it “debt-trap diplomacy”—a phrase he used through the last days of the administration—and evidence of China’s military ambitions. Last year, erstwhile Attorney General William Barr raised the case to argue that Beijing is “loading poor countries up with debt, refusing to renegotiate terms, and then taking control of the infrastructure itself.”
As Michael Ondaatje, one of Sri Lanka’s greatest chroniclers, once said, “In Sri Lanka a well-told lie is worth a thousand facts.” And the debt-trap narrative is just that: a lie, and a powerful one.
Our research shows that Chinese banks are willing to restructure the terms of existing loans and have never actually seized an asset from any country, much less the port of Hambantota. A Chinese company’s acquisition of a majority stake in the port was a cautionary tale, but it’s not the one we’ve often heard. With a new administration in Washington, the truth about the widely, perhaps willfully, misunderstood case of Hambantota Port is long overdue.
The city of Hambantota lies at the southern tip of Sri Lanka, a few nautical miles from the busy Indian Ocean shipping lane that accounts for nearly all of the ocean-borne trade between Asia and Europe, and more than 80 percent of ocean-borne global trade. When a Chinese firm snagged the contract to build the city’s port, it was stepping into an ongoing Western competition, though one the United States had largely abandoned.
ISLAMABAD: In what could be dubbed a major triumph, Supernet Limited and Australian technology partner Avara Technologies (Pvt) Ltd have been awarded a new project worth Rs250 million, enabling in-country engineers and technicians to rectify faults throughout the equipment’s lifecycle.
The new project, valued at approximately Rs250 million, constitutes Phase 3 of the programme for the supply of multiservice multiplexers and associated operations, maintenance, warranty, and support services.
Supernet Limited (Supernet) announced on Wednesday that they, in conjunction with their Australian technology partner Avara Technologies Pvt Ltd (Avara), have been awarded a new project worth approximately Rs250 million within a long-term program that was awarded in 2021 by a major Pakistani customer.
The new project valued at approximately Rs250 million constitutes Phase 3 of the program for the supply of multiservice multiplexers and associated operations, maintenance, warranty and support services.
The program includes the establishment of a repair facility in Pakistan and the transfer of knowledge through an expansive training program enabling in-country engineers and technicians to rectify faults throughout the equipment’s lifecycle.
Supernet Wins Major Optical Fiber Supply and Deployment Project worth PKR 150 million
Supernet Limited (“Supernet”) has secured a sizeable telecommunications infrastructure development project from a Pakistani mobile network operator.
The project valued at over PKR 150 million includes the supply of optical fiber and associated equipment and its deployment in different areas of Punjab. The total length of different segments constituting this project is approximately 140 kilometers.
With this project, Supernet has reached a significant milestone of 1,000 kilometers of optical fiber supply and deployment projects awarded by mobile network operators in Pakistan.
Head of Business Unit-Telecoms & Defense at Supernet, Ali Akhtar said:
“We are excited to play our part in the expansion of telecommunications infrastructure in Pakistan and supporting the proliferation of communications and digital services by mobile network operators in the country. We are ever grateful to our customers for repeatedly trusting Supernet. The optical fiber business line is a relatively new endeavour for Supernet and the 1,000 kilometres mark is a testament to our capabilities and the springboard for further growth in this segment. This is a strong start to 2022 and we will strive to keep the momentum going.”
The Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 6 (SEA-ME-WE 6) is a 19,200 km-long submarine cable system connecting Pakistan with multiple countries between Singapore and France. SEA-ME-WE 6 will offer one of the lowest latencies available between Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe, transferring more than 100 Tbps, the equivalent of 40,000 high-definition videos each second.
The SEA-ME-WE 6 consortium includes Trans World Associates, Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company, Bharti Airtel Ltd. (India) Dhiraagu (Maldives), Djibouti Telecom, Mobily (Saudi Arabia), Orange (France), Singtel (Singapore), Sri Lanka Telecom, Telecom Egypt, Telekom Malaysia and Telin (Indonesia).
Speaking on the occasion Mr. Kamran Malik, President of Transworld said:
“To meet ever increasing demand of bandwidth and to play a pivotal role in the forthcoming era of 5G, Transworld has joined the SEA-ME-WE 6 consortium, to build the latest state of the art high-capacity submarine cable system.”
SEA-ME-WE 6 will have more fibre pairs and more than double the capacity as compared to previous SEA-ME-WE cables.
SEA-ME-WE 6 provides an additional layer of diversity and resilience for the high traffic density route between Asia and Europe, strengthening the overall network of each consortium partner, through trans-Egypt’s new geo-diversified crossings and landing points.
The Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 6 (SEA-ME-WE 6) consortium announced today that construction has commenced on a 19,200 km-long submarine cable system connecting multiple countries between Singapore and France. SEA-ME-WE 6 will offer one of the lowest latencies available between Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Western Europe, transferring more than 100 terabytes per second, the equivalent of 40,000 high-definition videos each second.
The SEA-ME-WE 6 consortium includes Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company, Bharti Airtel Ltd. (India) Dhiraagu (Maldives), Djibouti Telecom, Mobily (Saudi Arabia), Orange (France), Singtel (Singapore), Sri Lanka Telecom, Telecom Egypt, Telekom Malaysia, Telin (Indonesia), and Trans World Associates (Pakistan).
Pakistan has taken steps to address the outstanding concerns of Chinese investors, says Khalid Mansoor
By Mehtab Haider
Pakistan has received commitments from China for getting investments of $10-$15 billion for various sectors, including for establishing industrial units at 2,200 acres of Gwadar Free Zone, exploring the possibility to establish oil refinery at Pasni and relocation of industries into seven important sectors, including textile, footwear and pharmaceuticals into upcoming the Special Economic Zones.
Adviser to Prime Minister on CPEC, Khalid Mansoor, on Monday said that Pakistan took steps to address the outstanding concerns of Chinese investors such as payment of dues to independent power producers, making revolving funds functional and changing Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Act. This change in SEZ Act will pave the way to bypass 37 approvals for federal and provincial governments for making investments in SEZs.
"The government has paid Rs50 billion to IPPs while another installment of the same amount will be given by the end of the ongoing month. The Revolving Fund has been made functional," PM's Adviser on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Khalid Mansoor said while addressing a news conference here on Monday. The Pakistani delegation under PM Imran Khan had returned from China after attending Olympics Winter 2022 and on the sidelines, they held meetings with Chinese leadership, including President Xi Jin Ping.
However, both sides could not make the progress on the much-awaited multi-billion-dollar project for the construction of Mainline-1 (ML-1) to upgrade the rail line from Peshawar to Karachi. The official sources said that the resolutions of outstanding concerns, including repayments for IPPs and making Revolving Fund functional, would result in paving the way for achieving progress on striking financing agreement on ML-1.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar told The News on Monday that the prime minister held meetings with 19 Chinese companies, inviting them to invest in Pakistan. He said that they shared the detailed documents with Chinese authorities on investment potential and comparative advantage of Pakistan in seven sectors, including textile, pharmaceutical, automotive, information technology, footwear, furniture, and agriculture.
A consortium of three Chinese companies Huazhong Technology, China Communication Construction Company (CCCC) and Zhejiang Seaport Company will set up a paper and metal recycling Park at Gwadar, which will include multiple units at an estimated cost of $4.5 billion. The park is expected to create 40,000 employment opportunities.
A Chinese textile company will establish a Special Economic Zone, which will be a Chinese textile cluster, with an investment of USD250 million.
Three Chinese companies, SINOMACH, Royal Group and Zhengbang Group, have expressed interest in investing in agriculture sector projects, such as FMD free zones, agricultural mechanization, production of pesticides, poultry and cattle feed, etc.
In information technology sector, five Chinese companies have expressed intent to invest around USD2.4 billion. These include Hunan Sunwalk Construction Group (optic fiber network), Fourishtech (research lab and mobile phones assembling and parts manufacturing) and Neusoft Medical Systems (medical diagnostic equipment); Global Semiconductor Group (semiconductor testing and assembly); NAV E-Vehicles (Pvt) Ltd (electric vehicles). MoUs have already been signed for the first two projects.
In the energy and water sectors, two large Chinese companies, China Energy Group and Power China, expressed interest for investment in water sector projects. In the housing sector, three Chinese companies, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCE), China Railway Group Limited and CHINAMEX have expressed interest in implementing various projects.
The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) has launched three more projects of Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) worth Rs. 5 billion for six districts in Sindh.
The projects will provide high-speed connectivity to 4.2 million people in Larkana, Hyderabad, Badin, Qambar Shahdadkot District, Jamshoro, and Badin, and will be completed in 16 months. The contract for the projects was signed between the Universal Service Fund (USF) and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL).Speaking at the signing ceremony, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said in line with the vision of Digital Pakistan, the MoITT has been running diverse projects through the Universal Service Fund (USF). These projects are playing a huge role in the socio-economic development of the locals.
Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin uI Haque speaking at the occasion said that the ministry aims to connect all the citizens of Pakistan through the USF as digitalization has become a priority for businesses and communities.
Under its Next Generation Optic Fiber (NG-OF) Network & Services program, the USF has contracted over 16,000 km of OFC to benefit 31.5 million people across the country by providing access to information and e-suite services, such as e-healthcare, e-finance, e-agriculture, and e-education.
The minister added that the MoITT is enabling the rural and remote communities to compete better and support economic development for a positive impact on the national GDP while contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Hong Kong – PEACE Cable International Network Co., Ltd (PEACE Cable) has completed the construction and laying of PEACE submarine cable infrastructure in Pakistan together with Cyber Internet Services (Cybernet), the leading Internet and data communication network service provider. The Pakistan-Egypt segment of PEACE has achieved final splicing, thus enabling connectivity from Karachi, Pakistan to Marseille, France ready for service.
The PEACE Pakistan-Egypt segment connects Karachi, Pakistan and Zafarana, Egypt, spanning a total length of 5,800 km. The landings of Karachi and Zafarana were completed in March and December 2021 respectively. In addition, the Mediterranean segment of PEACE linking Marseille, France, to Abu Talat, Egypt, a 3,200km long project, has also achieved RFS in March 2022. Therefore, the route from Pakistan to France of PEACE cable system is now fully constructed well and ready for use.
In 2019, the landing agreement was signed by Cybernet and PEACE Cable. Cybernet, the landing partner of PEACE in Pakistan, has built the country’s state-of-the-art, Cable Landing Station in Karachi, which will allow global carriers, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), content providers and virtually all IT-enabled firms to tap into the submarine cable capacity at easily accessible interconnect points across Pakistan. Cybernet has the most robust fiber optic network across the country which will also facilitate access and boost business opportunities for PEACE in the Asian region.
Through the deployment of the PEACE submarine cable system, Pakistan will have access to high-speed, large-volume internet bandwidth with express connectivity to France. With its ultra-low latency design, this cable will reduce latency between Pakistan and France to 92 milliseconds. This will improve the response time of Internet-based applications and experience of Pakistani users while providing much-needed redundancy to Pakistan’s Internet infrastructure. The increased capacity will finally make it possible to provide ultra-fast bandwidth connections across Pakistani citizens, with speeds comparable to those in cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore and New York.
It will improve speed more than five prior cables
• While Kenya has the second-highest internet connectivity in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa, costs are almost five times compared to Europe
• A survey puts monthly Internet costs in Kenya at an average of Sh2,800 for 10mbps, way above global average of Sh2,100
Kenya is set to enjoy faster Internet speed and lower charges on a new submarine cable with a combined capacity of all existing ones.
The 15,000km cable, called Peace, has a designed capacity of 16 terabyte per second fibre pair with 200 gigabyte per second per single wavelength, almost four times faster than the initial cable that landed at the Kenyan coast in 2009.
Speaking during the launch, ICT CS Joe Mucheru said the new cable is coming to enhance existing ones, bring efficiency and help in cutting high Internet costs in the country.
"This cable will disrupt the technology sector, improve speed and reduce costs to inspire socioeconomic development not just in Kenya but Africa," Mucheru said.
The latest survey on Internet costs by the World Internet Stats shows that, while Kenya has the second-highest Internet connectivity in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa, costs are almost five times compared to Europe.
It puts monthly Internet costs in Kenya at an average of Sh2,800 for 10mbps, way above the global average of Sh2,100.
Mucheru said high Internet cost is a barrier to innovation, adding that the government is working with the private sector to ensure quality and affordability.
This is the sixth submarine cable landing at the Kenyan Coast and is estimated to have cost $400 million, close to Sh46 billion.
The amount is five times more compared to the cost of the initial cable by Seacom that was launched in 2009.
IT expert and former ICT PS Bitange Ndemo lauded the launch of the new cable, saying it is poised to take Kenya to the next level of technological empowerment.
"The first cable we launched in 2009 is credited for several innovations that have put Kenya on the global map. Before then, we used to rely on satellite. We have come a long way," Ndemo said.
The cable is connecting Pakistan, Kenya, Egypt, France and countries along the way with an extension to Singapore and South Africa.
It was funded under Public Private Partnership courtesy of Telkom Kenya, Orange, Telecom Egypt, Cybernet, HMN Tech and PCCW Global.
Kenya is shaping up as a centre-stage for the ongoing scramble for Africa in the tech space, with international firms from Europe, America and Asia landing their marine cables at the Coast.
The country has now six such cables in the span of a decade, with the first one being by Seacom in 2009 followed by The Teams in 2010.
Others are Lion2, Eassy and Dare1, which are hosted by Telkom Kenya.
Telkom Kenya CEO Mugo Kibati said the company has a terrestrial backbone of 600km across the country, connecting at least 34 counties in Kenya and the neighbouring countries of Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Tanzania and Sudan.
PEACE is targeted for completion in Q1, 2020.The system design will adopt the latest 200G technology and WSS technology, which provides the capability to transmit over 16 Tbps per fiber pair, servicing growing regional capacity needs. The PEACE cable system with landings in Pakistan, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya and France --- in the first phase -- will connect the three most populated continents in the world, providing critical interconnection to the economic corridors of Asia, Europe, and Africa. A total capacity of 96 Tbps will be added to Pakistan’s internet infrastructure.
The PEACE cable project will enable carriers to extend gigabit speeds to the Pakistani population and will be instrumental in meeting the exponential growth in bandwidth demand from mobile and fixed broadband users in Pakistan and neighboring countries.
Speaking on the occasion, Wu Qianjun, Vice president of Hengtong Group and CEO of PEACE Cable, said:
“PEACE is the first privately owned submarine cable system from China. We see the PEACE project as a strategic pivot for the HENGTONG Group - to obtain our experience as a subsea cable investor and look forward to identifying new investing opportunities in this market in the future. We are extremely excited to cooperate with Cybernet as our landing partner in Pakistan for PEACE. It’s the power of this cooperation that is spearheading the deployment and commercialization of better connectivity between Asia, Africa and Europe.”
Cybernet, amongst Pakistan’s oldest ISPs, is the PEACE Cable Landing Station Partner in Pakistan and has been entrusted with deploying PEACE Pakistan Cable Landing Station (CLS) and managing its operations. With over 22 years of experience in building and running countrywide fiber broadband operations, IP/MPLS networks and cloud optimized data centers, Cybernet will be building Pakistan’s first carrier-neutral cable landing station for PEACE cable by Q1 2020 in Karachi.
Speaking on the occasion, Danish Lakhani, CEO of Cybernet Pakistan, said:
“We are humbled to be able to contribute in bringing a submarine cable system that will have an outsized impact on the digital landscape in Pakistan. PEACE is the only cable system that originates in Pakistan and connects 3 continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) and elevates our country’s strategic standing in the global connectivity race. This ultra-high capacity cable will boost available bandwidth to meet current and future requirements of Pakistan and that of neighboring countries. With its ultra-low latency design, the cable will cut down transit time between Pakistan and France to under 90 milliseconds – dramatically improving the response time of internet-based applications and the experience of our users. The cable will also bolster the redundancy of our country’s connectivity to the rest of world. At Cybernet, our vision is to create an enabling environment for Pakistan’s digital landscape where ISPs, carriers, CDNs, content providers and virtually all IT enabled firms can extend affordable services to our citizens – while contributing to increasing GDP, IT exports and total factor productivity. The PEACE cable system will contribute significantly in bringing us closer to achieving this vision.”
The ‘One Network’ is an advanced communication project, under which 3,000 kilometres of underground fibre optic cable is being laid along the motorways across Pakistan. After the completion of the project, it would meet Pakistan's telecommunication requirements.
According to the One Network chief operating officer (COO), 2,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable haf been laid under the motorways communication infrastructure. People traveling on the motorways would get relief from the rush situations. It would also eliminate cash payments at toll plazas.
The system would also be linked to the motorway police to keep check on any violation of the traffic rules, such as wearing of seat belt and the speed limit. Besides, in case of emergency, people would get timely recovery or rescue assistance.
The ‘One Network’ covers M1 to M16 Motorways in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Pindi Bhattian, Multan, Sukkur, Karachi, Hyderabad, Sialkot, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat and Hazara, besides the Lahore Ring Road and Lahore-Faisalabad route.
The FWO is also conducting six diploma courses. According to the principal of this project, Col (retd) Atif, about 45 short courses of three to six months of duration were also offered. The graduated from here were associated with technical fields in Pakistan and other countries.
The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication is likely to launch 5G technology next year in the country to cope with the challenges of the digital world. The official of ministry of IT and telecommunication said that the provision of broadband services across the country was the topmost priority of the ministry of IT. He said that the ministry of IT through the Universal Service Fund (USF) had launched some 70 projects of optical fiber cable (OFC) and broadband infrastructure development in four provinces at a cost of Rs 65 billion. “All projects are underway in far-flung areas would be completed by June next year,” he added. “In the province of Sindh alone, 20 projects of NGBSD and OFC worth Rs16.3 billion have been started so far in 20 districts, including Tharparkar, Nawabshah, Khairpur, Larkana, Badin, Jacobabad, Shikarpur, Mirpurkhas, and Dadu,” the official said. He said that projects of connectivity of the un-served and underserved communities of Balochistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces had also been launched. He said, through USF aimed to connect all the citizens of the country as digitalisation had become a priority for businesses and communities. Under its Next Generation Optic Fiber (NG-OF) Network and Services programme, USF had contracted over 16,000km of Optic Fiber Cable (OFC) to benefit 31.5 million populations across the country.
Jazz and Huawei have commercially deployed FDD (Frequency Division Duplexing) Massive MIMO (Multiple Input and Multiple Output) solution based on 5G technology in a large scale. The solution has been developed and tailored to the needs of boosting network capacity and user experience.
This customized solution has been the first launch of Jazz and Huawei, supporting Jazz leap into the 4.9G domain. This innovative solution has tremendously enhanced the network capacities along with superior 4G experience for the valued subscribers. The average network traffic increased by around 30% and the average single user speed increased by around 170%.
Jazz’s Chief Technology Officer, Khalid Shehzad said, “We see that our customers are increasingly using high-bandwidth applications which resultantly puts pressure on existing network capabilities. Massive MIMO essentially allows us the freedom to provide more data at greater speeds, enabling our customers to use the enhanced services on their existing 4G devices. Network speeds will be faster than ever, which will significantly improve the end-user experience. Jazz is committed to developing an ecosystem that supports the government’s Digital Pakistan vision and the evolving technology needs of individuals and businesses.”
Huawei provides the industry's unique intelligent beam scheduling and intelligent beamforming technology which are native for 5G. Massive MIMO improves the capability of the handsets to transmit more efficiently. Currently Huawei FDD Massive MIMO has been deployed in more than 70 networks and over 20,000 units have been shipped. The level of collaboration between Jazz and Huawei goes beyond to more domains. For example, the first 400G transmission, the first core network cloudification, the first large-scale commercial use of VoLTE, and the first 3G sunset city. In Pakistan, Jazz maintains a leading position in network performance and innovations, and it leads the development of the entire ICT industry.
Every Pakistani broadband user consumed 81 GB of data in FY22, which showed double-digit growth of 11 percent as compared to the average yearly internet consumption which stood at 73 GB per person in FY21.
During the period under review, 8,970 petabytes of mobile data usage was reported in Pakistan, indicating a 31 percent increase from the previous year. Five years ago, mobile data usage in the country stood at 1,262 petabytes.
China's Sunwalk Group intends to invest USD 2 billion in Cash-Strapped Pakistan's telecom sector for the deployment of an optical fiber network, Business Recorder reported.
The deployment of an optical fiber network will cover an area of 100,000 km over a period of time in Pakistan.
A high-level delegation of the Sunwalk Group led by chairman HOU called on Pakistan's Minister for IT and Telecom Syed Aminul Haque on Tuesday.
The meeting discussed about investment in telecom infrastructure, optical fiber cable (OFC), and right of way (RoW).
Sunwalk (Pvt) Ltd, is a telecom and technology-based multinational private Chinese enterprise that has developed multiple telecoms, and communication infrastructure projects in China and has acquired the TIP License in Pakistan, reported Business Recorder.
The company started deployment and invested about USD 5 million and has the plan to deploy 5,000 km OFC as the next step, according to Business Recorder.
In a significant development for Pakistan’s IT and Telecommunication sector, Director of Global Licensing and Market Activation at SpaceX, Ryan Goodnight, called on the Federal Minister of Information Technology and Telecommunication, Syed Aminul Haq, to discuss the registration of SpaceX’s Starlink in Pakist
According to the Minister, Starlink has registered itself with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).
The meeting was aimed at exploring how Starlink’s fastest and cheapest satellite internet services could pave the way for affordable broadband services in every corner of Pakistan.
The Minister expressed his optimism that Starlink’s services could significantly reduce the operational costs of telecom operators, even in remote areas where inactive mobile towers could be activated at low cost.
“Our main objective is to provide broadband services to every corner of Pakistan at affordable tariffs,” said the Minister, adding, “Starlink can play an important role in this regard.”
Ryan Goodnight thanked the Minister for his full cooperation and appreciated Pakistan’s progress in the IT and Telecommunication sector. “Basic steps are complete, and now we are ready to go fast,” Ryan added.
This development could potentially revolutionize Pakistan’s telecommunications industry by providing faster and more affordable internet services, even in remote areas. The successful implementation of Starlink’s services in Pakistan could be a significant step towards achieving the goal of a connected Pakistan.
The newly formed OneWeb/NEOM Tech & Digital JV will bring high-speed satellite connectivity to NEOM, Saudi Arabia, the wider Middle East and neighbouring countries including Pakistan.
The OneWeb/NEOM Tech & Digital JV has exclusive rights to distribute OneWeb services in these regions for seven years, and is expected to commence operations in 2023.
The OneWeb/NEOM Tech & Digital JV is looking to transform businesses and communities, stimulating enterprise across the region, with gateways and Points of Presence (POPs) in the Middle East providing security, speed and low latency data to sectors such as finance and retail, as well as schools and hospitals.
The JV says it will offer a seamless solution to infrastructural hurdles in Pakistan, where mobile operators and local loop operators will be able to leverage the service to expand their coverage areas, offering dependable low-cost internet access.
Matthew Johnson, Interim CEO of the OneWeb/NEOM Tech & Digital JV, said: “LEO satellites not only mean we can reach absolutely everyone everywhere, but with reliable and rapid speeds – connectivity at 100 megabits per second and more without the need for techniques such as trenching or placement of 5G equipment and fiber optics. This partnership with REDtone highlights how this technology presents an incredible growth opportunity for the wider region.”