International satellite communication entities like Starlink and Web1 will enter Pakistan following the approval of the National Space Policy, which allows private companies to utilize low-orbit satellites in Pakistan.
Caretaker Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication, Dr. Umar Saif, has expressed optimism that With the cabinet’s approval, international companies interested in launching satellite communication services in Pakistan will now require a no-objection certificate from the Defence Ministry. Dr. Saif mentioned that these companies, including Starlink and Web1, could utilize low-orbit satellites for fast internet services on the condition of contributing 6% to research and development (R&D).
In addition, the IT ministry has facilitated freelancers’ remittances through third parties with PayPal’s assistance. Dr. Saif also discussed the initiatives for launching 5G services in Pakistan, which are expected to be completed in the next financial year, and the ministry’s various digital initiatives.
Future Developments and Policy Interventions
The minister highlighted several upcoming initiatives, such as the launch of 5G technologies, with 300 MHz spectrum reserved and a consultant to be hired for the spectrum auction assessment. He addressed the dynamics shift due to Telenor Pakistan’s acquisition by PTCL, predicting intense competition and consulting on auction payments and modalities.
Dr. Saif refrained from assessing the benchmark for the auction price, leaving it to the consultant to determine based on the market environment. He mentioned upcoming digital initiatives, including the formal launching of PayPal for remittances, offering smartphones in easy instalments, and standardized quality tests for IT graduates to position Pakistan as a ‘TechDestination.’
The government’s efforts to boost IT and telecom sector exports were also discussed, with the minister stating that the sector’s exports stand at $2.6 billion but effectively reach around $5 billion due to a significant portion being parked outside the country.
A policy intervention now allows IT companies to retain 50% of their export revenue in dollars in Pakistan, facilitating international expenses and leading to a 13% increase in export revenue in a month. Telecom companies also plan to offer the latest phone models in easy instalments, with measures in place for instalment failures.