KARACHI : The Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (Ispak) has demanded that the bandwidth tariff should at least be equal to that prevailing in the international market.
President Ispak, Waqar Ahmed Abidi talking to Business Recorder said that the measures taken by the authority were helpful but not entirely to their satisfaction and resolved to continue to strive for the rights of the consumers.
He said that the neighbouring country, India had the highest rates throughout the world and the rates in Pakistan even after the recent reduction were higher than India's.
He said that India had already earned the goodwill in the international market of information technology and was getting handsome business in the form of outsourcing, offshore servicing and call-centres etc, besides their software exports were far greater than Pakistan.
In such a situation India could afford higher rates but Pakistan, which was an emerging country in the industry and was yet to mark its place on the world map could not catch up with the competitors with such higher rates and the monopoly of PTCL.
"Reducing bandwidth tariff lower than India is must for the country to be in the competition and gaining a favourable position in the market," Abidi observed.
Lamenting the PTCL's monopoly, he said even the internal bandwidth or domestic bandwidth rates were higher than the international and added that a link to London from Karachi was cheaper than to establish a connection from Karachi to Islamabad.
He said that ever since the announcement of the broadband policy by the government of Pakistan, the ISPAK started its efforts to ensure the correct environment for the realisation of the goal set in the policy. The stumbling block for a way was always the PTCL, which created numerous hurdles in the way of the progress of the broadband in the country.
In the first quarter of 2006, ISPAK approached the PTA armed with world-wide data and bench marks. ISPAK kept on pursuing the case very seriously pointing out the factual position where the position had been altered, either through changing circumstances in the telecom market or where the facts were not clearly elaborated.
"ISPAK is very thankful to the PTA for affording us an opportunity to express our point of view and for taking appropriate action in the best interest of the country and its expanding economy," Abidi said.
Speaking about the outcome of this step, he said that this reduction would enable the spread of DSL from the corporate houses to the domestic market and the students could benefit from it as well as new business avenues would be opened.
He further said that availability of the DSL in the domestic market would help women in particular to be involved in the business activities even staying in their houses, as the internet has now become a very popular and strong medium of offshore outsourcing.
Abidi maintained that the bandwidth rates should be as much affordable that the DSL could be accessible by all even in the rural areas. This would give a boost to the cottage industry, he said and quoted the example of India where dairy sector was established and has flourished through the Internet.
He, however, appreciated the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) for reducing the bandwidth tariff in the country and added that the monopoly of PTCL should be checked and the tariff should at least be equivalent to those prevailing in the international market.