Week-long internet outages: Do we actually know how much did it cost?

Pakistan Software Export Association says a day's business of the information technology sector in Pakistan in worth $12 million.

The government blocked broadband and mobile internet across the country in the wake of violent protests following the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan last week, which resulted in huge monetary losses for all sectors and even individuals. However, the actual magnitude of losses is debatable, with public sector claiming Rs2.49 billion loss of revenue because of Internet Outage in Pakistan, IT exporters claiming Rs10 billion loss of business, but no institution gauging the loss it caused to daily wagers who couldn’t make ends meet.

According to data shared by local media, the internet outage coupled with restriction on social media platforms the government generates revenue of Rs280 million from mobile broadband services on a daily basis. The suspension grossly affected e-commerce, online services, home delivery and ride-hailing apps too.

Pakistan Software Export Association (PSEA) informed that a day’s business of the information technology sector in Pakistan in worth $12 million. Following the outages last week, the PSEA said, the IT sector suffered a loss of more than Rs10 billion.

Moreover, official sources within the telecom sector informed that the mobile broadband services constitute around 60% of their total revenues. Therefore, on a daily-basis, they earn approximately Rs820 million. Additionally, the government receives around 35% of this revenue.

This is just an estimate from one industry. The overall economic loss to the country is likely to be massive. In addition, millions of daily wagers who earn through online modes of income including delivery riders, ride hailers and freelancers were deprived of livelihood due to the internet blackout.

Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin-ul-Haque on Tuesday distanced his ministry from blockage saying that they were not “taken into confidence”.

“Mobile internet service was suspended without taking the Ministry of IT in confidence. After 2017 Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is not under the Ministry of IT,” the federal IT minister was quoted as saying by local media.

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