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Pakistan IT Minister Says Starlink And Web1 Are Coming To the Country

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Dr Umar Saif expects that after the acceptance of the National Space Policy, satellite communication entities like Starlink and Web1 may enter Pakistan, which could allow private companies to use low-orbit satellites in the country. This news was reported on Saturday, 6th January.

To set up satellite communication services in Pakistan, international companies will now need a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the defense ministry after the cabinet’s approval.

Umar Saif expressed that by the condition of putting up 6% to research and development (R&D), the companies would be able to take advantage of low-orbit satellites for swift internet services.

He also said that, routing freelancers’ remittances by virtue of third parties with PayPal’s assistance, the IT ministry had paved the way.

Saif said, addressing the selected group of reporters at his office, “In a short timeframe, we have achieved various initiatives, including laying the groundwork for launching 5G services in Pakistan, expected to be completed in the next financial year. We have fulfilled our responsibilities to the best of our abilities and will step down after the upcoming general elections. The incoming government will need to continue our efforts to achieve a digital Pakistan.”

The minister talked about several important points, including the initiation of an auction supervisory committee for launching the 5G technologies and revealed that 300 MHz spectrum had been reserved. To decide the current potential for the upcoming spectrum auction, a consultant will be appointed.

He opened up a shift in dynamics, as PTCL had acquired Pakistan Telenor, which caused the possibility of intense competition between existing companies. Along with specific mode and timeframe, the consultant will also suggest whether we should make payments for the auction in US dollars or rupees.

Stating that the consultant would set up the benchmark which would be on the basis of the current market situation, the minister refused to pay an estimation of the benchmark for the upcoming auction price.

He highlighted that to position Pakistan as a ‘TechDestination’ ministry was ready next week, to set up different digital strategies, which include routing payments through PayPal, facilitating customers by providing smartphones in easy installments, and conducting standardized quality tests for IT graduate students.

Announcing the date of the launching ceremony of PayPal, he said that PayPal is not directly coming to Pakistan, a contract has been reached to channel remittances from PayPal through a third party which will be formally launched on 11 January.

The minister stated that public exports are currently $2.6 billion, but in reality, they are around $5 billion.

Because a large amount is outside the country to meet monthly expenses for cloud hosting, marketing and sales on platforms like Google, Amazon, LinkedIn etc. and cover the salaries of international employees, he added.

The minister said “We collaborated with the SIFC and State Bank of Pakistan to make a significant policy intervention, allowing IT companies to retain 50% of their export revenue in dollars in an account in Pakistan, enabling them to cover international expenses without restrictions. IT companies are now repatriating dollars, resulting in a 13% increase in export revenue in one month.”

The next step by telecom companies is to provide the latest phone models in easy installments and jazz planning to offer iPhones, he said.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) will use the Device Identification, Registration, and Blocking System (DIRBS) to block the handset, in case of instalment failure.

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