Pakistan’s growth rate of internet users is second highest in SAARC countries in accordance with its population, as it standing at 16.8 percent as compared with 28.3 percent of Maldives.
According to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) publications quoted World Bank statistics by July 2012, Pakistan internet users showed double digit growth from past five years. The growth rate stood at 10 percent in 2007, which is now more than 16 percent.
The internet users growth rate in India is standing at 7.5 percent; 12.1 percent in Sri Lanka, 13.6 percent in Bhutan with respect to their populations, World Bank statistics said.
In Pakistan, the internet users’ growth rate is on the rise through the services of broadband internet and mobile phone services.
According to Internet Service Providers Association of Pakistan (ISPAK), the estimated internet users have reached 25 million in the country thanks to broadband and mobile phone operators
The internet users having demand of high speed services are also increasing particularly through broadband operators exploiting various technologies such as Wimax, EvDO, FTTH.
As per industry estimate, there are more than five million broadband users in the country through connections of 2 million. The internet users mainly do connect with one IP or connections and consume internet services through sharing at home, office and educational institutions.
There are 50 internet services providers in which 10 are broadband companies exploring untapped market in big cities, making it available for people to use internet with only Rs 100.
Among 25 million internet users, more than 15 million of them avail internet services trough mobile phones thanks to cellular operators’ packages and awareness drive.
The mobile phone subscribers go online through different internet services including, EDGE, GPRS and Blackberry Internet Services (BIS).
Majority of the mobile phone subscribers use internet services for browsing, emails, Facebook and Twitter as cellular phone operators introduced different affordable packages to their subscribers. Moreover low cost handsets also facilitate a large number of people to connect online 24 hours.
The cellular phone companies have been working aggressively on the promotion of Internet services for last two years mainly for earning extra revenues besides voice calls and text messages. These companies introduced different bundle packages of Internet services in their youth brands to promote Internet services as an essential for young customers for education and entertainment purposes.
The trend of using Internet is increasing rapidly with the arrival of smartphones of different handset makers though low-cost handsets are available in the market having options of online connectivity. It was further given impetus through providing easy connectivity to users for using Facebook and Twitter.
Mobile phone companies and handset makers alike have provided easy connectivity of Facebook and Twitter Internet users that gave further impetus to Internet usage among the customers
Officials of the mobile phone companies said the Internet consumption of their subscribers varies due to different needs of individuals in their daily life. They said the customers having postpaid connection are large users of Internet services due to their business and professional demands. Besides youngsters usage of Internet is limited on mobile phone as they usually avail Internet services for social networking sites, informative webs and browsing.
The cellphone operators have created demand of Internet usage among customers through different tools like applications of education, infotainment and entertainment by their own portals.
The excessive branding and marketing campaigns of mobile phone companies are generating positive results on their business in fact creating awareness among the customers before the launch of high data service—3G technology.
The rising internet utility among the masses have increased the living standard of the people not only for communications and information purpose but for commercial means such as credit and money transactions by branchless and mobile banking.
The growth in internet users pave the way towards growth in different sector particularly the access of information and entertainment at affordable purpose but it should be controlled by the watchdog, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
In this regard, the government should install a Firewalls system to control the objectionable and indecent material on the internet as if many countries like China, UAE and KSA have done earlier.
In this way, the government can minimize the harmful impacts of internet on its users throughout the country and the online landscape will be exploited for constructive and meaningful purposes.