Beyond the Infrastructure: Salman Ansari

In this episode of TNS TechTalk, we caught up with Telecom Consultant Salman Ansari, to talk to him about the connectivity infrastructure that is available today, and what the landscape looks like beyond it.

The nature of technology is disruption. It enables people to do things faster, more systematically and of doing things faster, smarter and more efficiently. Information Technology used to occupy the domain of operating machines and computers but that was all last century. It is now the best medium to help spread access to education and health. Pakistan is at an inflection point because is infrastructural redundancy.

There are companies such as Transworld and PTCL who brought fiber connectivity into Pakistan. Back in 2000, a 2Mb pipe would cost $40,000 whereas today, it costs one dollar. This transformation has happened because of bulk imports worth gigabits and terabits of information. Gwadar and Karachi are being connected via terabit cable and Transworld is bringing in multi-terabit cables at landing sites, simultaneously getting in GPON (Gigabit Passive Optical Networks). All this is happening at low cost with redundancy through multiple rings owned by Transworld, PTCL and Mobilink. Real growth, instead of growth-spurts, will happen when the rural populations come online. This is enough to span 4G and 5G coverage across Pakistan. Connectivity is very cheap due to competition, and we are taking advantage of it.

45 million people use the internet right now and they use it to do everything. Now that access to connectivity is easier and more prevalent, the web has a lot more value. For example, did you know that 80% of criminal cases in Pakistan have to do with land disputes and land ownership? The centralization of records is the first step to do away with them. Digitize that intelligently and the rate of crime may drop, giving rise to growth on a different part of the spectrum.

Access to education is such a challenge. Companies using telecom coverage in the KPK region educate young girls across 1200 schools. Central hubs where female teachers can manage multiple schools at a time through the power of integrated communication, exposing students to English and Urdu in addition to their native Pashto. The transformation of young women is incredible because of what they are able to do with that knowledge. The Virtual University, the step-up in infrastructure from the AIOU, started in 2000 and is now one of the best institutions in the country.

Because of IoT, health and life sciences have so much to gain. Low cost solutions which allow individuals to create health records of people with high blood pressure, diabetes, sugar levels, in a non invasive ways. CSR funding doesn’t get innovation going; corporate budgets with corporate muscle does, and there are telecoms who understand this enough to do so.

Technology is a huge advantage. If actually put to use with an agile roadmap in place, IT can allow any country to leapfrog and grow across different problems and strengthen the economy. Technology levels the playing field because it really is class and background agnostic.

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