iPOP Calls for Broadband Competition Boost

Lack of competition in broadband market is limiting roll-out of essential high-speed services for consumers and businesses in Pakistan.

Director of Internet Policy Observatory Pakistan Mr. Khan while speaking at launching ceremony of fiber to the home network in Quetta said that Pakistan broadband market is being stifled by a lack of competition, resulting in lower access rates for consumers and businesses in the country.

The economic future of the country is closely linked to the expansion of Internet access and speeds. The growing bandwidth demands of consumers and businesses are changing the competitive landscape of the broadband sector.

“Our goal at iPOP is not to criticize, but to recognize that meaningful competition for high-speed wired broadband is lacking and Pakistan need more competitive choices for faster and better Internet connections, both to take advantage of today’s new services, and to incentivize the development of tomorrow’s innovations,” Khan said.

Director iPOP said Pakistan needs a national broadband competition agenda that sets out the principles for the country’s broadband activities and will act as a road-map for development.

Khan added that any public Internet policy must protect consumer’s right such as access, interconnection, consumer protection, public safety and national security.

The heart of the issue, in Khan’ s eyes, is that competition in the broadband sector decreases as data rates increase. What that means is that there are fewer providers offering high-speed access than more mainstream speeds. He pointed to iPOP research that shows the majority (51.5%) of consumers seeking a service offering 10 Mbps in the downlink have a choice of only one provider, while the majority (55.3%) of those seeking a 20 Mbps connection have access to no service provider.

Consumer demand for high-bandwidth services is fuelling the need for greater competition and access speeds. Khan revealed that 60% of peak-time web usage involves streaming audio and video, and predicted the demand will increase.

Khan also said the PTA’s current measure of high-speed internet – 2 Mbps – is no longer adequate, and that even rates of 10 Mbps may now be too slow to be used as the standard.

Khan added that mobile broadband has the potential to become a substitute for fixed line access, but note that wireless technology is currently “just not a full substitute for fixed broadband”, especially given mobile pricing levels and limited data allowances.

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