An opinion piece written by LIRNEasia's CEO Helani Galpaya, published in the Economy Watch section of the Pakistan Observer on Sunday, 02 December 2018.
We continue to receive media coverage for the Islamabad Mobile 2.0 Applications and Conditions Expert Forum Meeting. M. Somasekhar’s piece on Hindu Business Line on mobile payments says: Experts from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Kenya, Thailand, the Philippines, Bhutan and Bangladesh among other nations met in Islamabad recently to discuss their experiences in providing mobile phone services for the BoP segment in their respective countries. They agreed that a beginning has been made and the road ahead appeared daunting, but technological progress promised quick results.
A write-up by an Indian journalist who attended the recent Islamabad Expert Forum summarizes the reasons for it working better than the gargantuan Indian USF: lower rate; efficient disbursement mechanism: Interestingly, while in India, a telecom operator has to contribute 5 per cent of its annual revenue to the USO Funds, Pakistan charges much less at 1.5 per cent. In India, the funds go to the national budget and the Department of Telecommunications has to make projects to source them, in Pakistan a separate company has been created to utilise the funds. The journalist also points to a new twist whereby renewable energy has been made mandatory for all base stations supported by the Fund. In a bold move, the Pakistan Telecom Authority, the telecom Regulator has made it mandatory that all bases stations being set up with support from the USF should be ‘Green Sites’ or renewable energy powered, especially solar and wind as the case may be.
The Pakistan Telecom Authority in their December 2008 quarterly review gives the reasoning behind the government’s decision to impose high taxes on mobile phone use. To reduce the high fiscal deficits, the government had increased taxes. The increase for the telecom sector was over 40 percent; for other sectors it was only seven percent. However, the end result was unexpected, though it could have been predicted from economic theory. In the two quarters after the tax increase, the tax revenue from mobile declined.
The ITU’s World Information Society Report 2007 contains the following discussion of one of LIRNEasia’s flagship products, the Telecom Regulatory Environment (TRE) assessment, in Chapter 2, Bridging the digital divide (p. 32). “One innovative approach adopted recently in the Asian market is to try to quantify the extent of sector reform. LIRNEAsia has conducted research into the regulatory environment in six Asian economies (India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand). Their research is based on interviews rating performance in market entry, scarce resources, interconnection, prices, anticompetitive practices and universal service.
At the Pakistan Telecom Authority-LIRNEasia workshop held in Islamabad on June 14, 2007, the Chairman of the PTA announced the most recent data on the telecom sector in Pakistan. Given the lack of a definition of a mobile subscriber and evidence that multiple SIMs are being used by individuals, it is LIRNEasia’s practice to refer to mobile SIMs rather than subscribers. That does not take away from the tremendous achievement of the Pakistan operators and the regulatory agency in increasing connectivity to levels above Sri Lanka and India. Pakistan exceeds in Telecom Regulatory Environment – PakTribune Chairman PTA said that PTA had provided level playing field in different areas of tele use in the country. He appreciated the research activities in communication sector as they motivated to perform even better.
14 June 2007) Rohan Samarajiva, Joseph Wilson, Harsha de Silva and Tahani Iqbal presented recent research conducted by LIRNEasia at a media and stakeholder event organized by the Pakistan Telecom Authority in Islamabad today. Following opening remarks by Chairman of PTA, Major General (R) Shahzada Alam Malik, Samarajiva and Wilson presented the new improved version of the six-country Telecom Regulatory Environment study, with emphasis on Pakistan. de Silva discussed the results of the Teleuse @ the Bottom of the Pyramid (T@BOP) survey conducted in five countries, including Pakistan. Among other things, he discussed the disparate access to ICTs between men and women at the BOP as well as the tremendous progress made in connecting large numbers of people at the BOP in the past few years. Iqbal presented comparative analysis of mobile prices in three countries of South Asia, using a basket methodology adapted from one used by the OECD since 1995.