A new report released by the advocacy organisation, Bytes for All, revealed that Pakistan is one of the world’s worst performers in regard to internet access and digital governance. On top of this, those who do have the privilege of using the internet have to bear extremely slow speeds and a lack of consistency in services. Given that our investment in the sector has been menial at best, such statistics are not surprising. We have set up a comprehensive framework for a ‘digital Pakistan’ but have not paid due attention to one major prerequisite that the success of such an initiative depends on; competent internet services.
The report titled Pakistan’s Internet Landscape 2022 explored the relationship between human rights as well as information and communication technologies in Pakistan in extreme depth. Throughout the course of years, we have seen a drastic improvement in connectivity and internet penetration but even so, 15 percent of the population still lacks access to the internet, or technologies needed to use it. Those who enjoy its use on a daily basis often find the service to be inconsistent and extremely slow. If all of this was not concerning enough, what is worse is the fact that Pakistan has the worst performance when it comes to the internet and connectivity not only in the world but even in Asia. Barely any attention has been paid to this sector at a time when the entire world has progressed to become self-reliant and proactive in incorporating the internet into all realms of life.
The destruction caused by the 2022 floods is one explanation behind this. Acres of land were left submerged in water, and vital infrastructure was torn down. This left thousands of people completely stranded, with no medium of communication with the rest of the country. But beyond this, a systemic problem is the lack of attention paid to the provision of internet services. We only have one peering point in Pakistan which means that the exchange of routing information and regulation of traffic between internet networks is rather limited. The reason why we cannot expand this is simply because we don’t have the infrastructure to. Poor and inconsistent services are due to poor-quality cables, and limited access to submarine internet cable systems. A lack of access is also because these very cables have not been routed and expanded to far-flung areas of the country.
Source: The Nation