‘4G for All’ fundamental to Digital Pakistan vision: Asif Aziz

Prioritizing the provision of high-speed 4G to rural and semi-urban populations is imperative for realizing the Digital Pakistan vision, said Asif Aziz, Chief Business Officer at Jazz. On its part, Jazz has played a significant role in fostering 4G adoption in Pakistan, witnessing substantial growth over the past five years, he added.

Currently, 90 percent of mobile broadband subscribers in Pakistan are utilizing 4G, a notable increase from just 17 percent five years ago, with Jazz having the largest 4G subscriber base of 46.38 million with an overall cellular subscriber base crossing 71.5 million mark.

Speaking at a panel discussion titled ‘Infrastructure Development in Pakistan: 5G & Cloud Technology’ at the Global Digital Summit 2024 in Lahore, Asif highlighted how the digitalization efforts at Jazz were focused on bringing the underserved segments of the population into the fold of digital inclusion.

Other speakers on the panel included Zarrar Khan – CBO PTCL, Ali Akhtar – CEO of DynaSys Networks, and Aamir Ahsan Khan – President & Key Account Manager – Ericsson Pakistan, while it was moderated by Saira Faisal – Country Lead on Digital Transformation at GSMA.

Addressing the digital divide is imperative; if it persists, inequality will persist among users, posing a significant threat to the country’s socioeconomic welfare,” remarked Asif.

Explaining the benefits of digital connectivity, Asif said it goes beyond involving basic connectivity to being a complete digital lifestyle tool where people productively interact with their smartphones all day instead of just a few minutes traditionally spent on calls and messaging.

“With a smartphone in every hand and broadband in every home, we can turn things around for the country, improving lives and livelihoods of Pakistanis, especially women and youth,” he said.

Responding to a question about 5G, Asif wondered if Pakistan was ready for the technology at this stage, shedding light on the challenges that the country currently faces. “With 20% of our population still without cellular coverage, a significant portion offline, low smartphone penetration, and only 1-2% of handsets being 5G enabled, our focus should instead be on maximizing the benefits that 4G presents.

He also highlighted that 2G phones still comprise a significant part of local manufacturing/assembly in Pakistan, at a time when the country should even be phasing out 3G technology. “Covid gave us a much-needed push toward digitalization, a momentum which we could use to our advantage to accelerate the digital uptake. Today, we need to resume that pace, for most of which 4G provides ample power.”

Asif added how Jazz, with its digital operator strategy, has been pursuing greater relevance for users through cutting-edge digital solutions for fintech, entertainment, lifestyle, cloud, and more.

“While JazzCash – Pakistan’s largest fintech, and Tamasha – Pakistan’s leading entertainment platform, are serving our customers’ changing financial services and entertainment needs respectively, on the business side of things, our cloud vertical, Garaj, has proved to be a massive success, already providing over 100 enterprises with cloud and cybersecurity solutions.”

Cloud computing provides organizations with the ability to rapidly scale resources up or down, as needed, allowing them to handle changes in demand more effectively; It also takes away the risks associated with huge CAPEX investment and lets the business use a pay-as-you-go model for ease, Asif added while speaking on the benefits of could services.

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