1 – The Government Keeps Taxing The Internet
Affordable internet means a stimulated economy, empowered citizens and more pictures of cats. But try telling that to the government.
In the last 12 months, we’ve seen an increasing number of taxes being added on internet in Pakistan. Whether it’s a 14% advanced witholding tax or a 19.5% data tax on 3G/4G, the dream of affordable internet for the masses keeps slipping further away.
2- Data Limits on Most Packages
Did you know that if you exceed 300GB data on your PTCL broadband connection below 8mbps, you get charged a flat Rs. 5000? Yep. And this is one of the most generous data limits you can get in Pakistan. Most packages by Pakistani internet providers have data caps.
We aren’t even discussing your 3G/4G/EVO data limits that could get digested with just a single 4K of watch on Netflix.
3 – The Country Goes Offline When An Undersea Cable Malfunctions
In what has become a regular series of posts on ProPakistani, we are constantly informing users that they are going to face connectivity issues because yet again, a fault in the submarine cable that provides Pakistan internet is facing difficulties.
Whatever redundancy arrangements exist on part of our ISPs, they need to be better. Availability is one of the most important metrics when it comes to judging an ISP and it’s poor in Pakistan.
We are hoping that new back-hauls are being deployed and things are going to get better, but till then let’s face it.
4 – Terrible Customer Support
There’s a saying that customer support is only good as long as your service is working. Give it a test yourself to see what we really mean here.
Dealing with any sort of customer support personnel can be a harrowing experience. Even if you have isolated the issue, chances are you’ll be forced to run through the same steps with the rep. That’s if you get to talk to a person at all.
Most ISPs are notorious for long wait times and many have even employed automatic complaint registration, so you can be told to buzz off by a recorded voice.
5 – Lack of Choice Between ISPs
The only truly nationwide operating ISP is PTCL. There have been many other services but they have limited areas of operation. And as we mentioned earlier, most come with download caps which severely limits what you can do on the internet.
Often, it seems like choosing the option that sucks the least. You either have to shell out a massive amount, be content with data caps or experience lower speeds.
6 – Quality of Service Metrics Aren’t Enforced
While PTA has defined KPIs to measure the service quality for ISPs, these aren’t enforced. So if there’s a massive outage or anti-consumer behavior that’d warrant a court case in the West, it has no consequence in Pakistan.
Another important consequence is that consumers are unable to make an informed choice since objective data is next to impossible to find.
7 – Censorship
The elephant in the room: censorship. In the past, Youtube has been blocked, we’ve seen discussion forums like Siasat.pk get shut down and reports suggesting that the government of Pakistan heavily manipulates online debate when it comes to politics and religion and engages in filtering countless websites.
Add claims that Pakistan wants to build a surveillance system that could rival or exceed the one owned by NSA and you’ve got an Orwellian state of the internet.
8 – Gaming online is a terrible experience
Whether it’s CS:GO or DOTA, gamers in Pakistan are at a persistent disadvantage when it comes to pings. When each milisecond means the difference between winning or losing a game, the poor quality of our connections really drives home.
Factor in the constant disconnections and it makes for a frustrating gaming experience. I swear I don’t suck, it’s my internet!
While we have heard that there’s a new internet exchange being set up by PTA for local peering, it’s still sluggish progress.
9 – Whole of Pakistan is Being Run on Copper Media
How often have you badly wanted to be in an area where Nayatel provides the services, or BrainNet for that matter?
99.999% of Pakistanis are usually left with aging copper media of PTCL that has lived twice its life, resulting into slow speeds or disconnections if your speed are above 2Mbps.
FTTH is still an alien concept in the country and only few thousands out of 200 million people have FTTH deployed and for the rest, internet is as unreliable as Shahid Afridi on the pitch.
10 – No Local Content
How many hours can you browse Facebook (rhetorical question, don’t take it as a challenge please) and Gmail, or your few local news websites in a day? The fact is that we lack local content to a degree that we can count local websites we visit everyday on our finger tips.
And if you ask me frankly, this is not going to change anytime soon because there’s no return on producing local content.
There used to be a time when several hundred bloggers were producing local content, but now there are less than few dozen active bloggers left — rest are all gone because banner ads are only form of revenues available to publishers, and worse is that advertisers pay 1 cent per click on adsense and don’t advertise directly at all because they think Facebook offers best ROI.
Then there’s no affiliate earning models because we don’t have a payment gateway. All in all, Pakistani publishers are living with dirt-low returns and this is why most of us are shifting our focus towards western audience that offer at least 32 times more returns than Pakistani audience.
There will be a day when Facebook will be the only publisher left in Pakistan and these same brands (mainly the telcos) will repent because user’s won’t have enough content to consume their data.