Home Balochistan Digital backslide: Millions of people out of work due to internet shutdown

Digital backslide: Millions of people out of work due to internet shutdown

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) shutdown 3G/4G services across the country for the indefinite period of time after protests erupted in the country following the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan.

Apart from blocking on 3G/4G services, major social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have been blocked in Pakistan on broadband internet too. According to Propakistani.pk, telecom operators in Pakistan have suffered an estimated revenue loss of Rs. 1.64 billion till now due to the shut down of mobile broadband services, and the government has lost around Rs. 574 million in tax revenue with losses expected to swell if the restrictions are not lifted.

In addition to the significant financial losses resulting from it, this artificial suspension of network and social media applications directly violates human rights and is an unwarranted and excessive response to socio-political problems. The shutdown has an impact on everyone who uses the internet and social media to contact with loved ones, carry out personal and professional activities, including businesses, students, and individual users.

According to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) telecom indicators, there are 125 million mobile broadband users as compared to only 2.5 million wired internet users due to insufficient infrastructure.

The companies that provide ride-hailing services, like Careem and InDrive, and delivery services, like Foodpanda and Bykea, have been severely hurt by the suspension of mobile internet. In addition to the more than 12,000 eateries and home chefs who use these platforms, which are all digitally connected are completely out of business.

According to figures provided by ProPakistani.pk, the nationwide internet shutdown has impacted:

  • Around 160,000 Bykea, InDrive, Careem, Uber captains, drivers and riders
  • Around 12,000 foodpanda home chefs, restaurants
  • Roughly 500,000 freelancers
  • Almost 90,000 POS vendors
  • Some 42,483,573 mobile wallets
  • 6,000 e-commerce stores

Numerous small and medium-sized enterprises have also been impacted by the blocking of social networking sites. Millions of content creators in Pakistan have the opportunity to make money on Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok. They work to support both themselves and their families.

Due to the suspension of data service, telecom consumers that subscribe to daily and weekly bundles using data are also suffering losses because they are unable to activate any bundles.