StormFiber expands to Multan even as taxes bite

Published: July 11, 2018
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The introduction of fiber-based gigabit internet connectivity will help Multan bridge the digital infrastructure gap and bring it at par with global metropolitan cities.

PHOTO:REUTERS

The introduction of fiber-based gigabit internet connectivity will help Multan bridge the digital infrastructure gap and bring it at par with global metropolitan cities. PHOTO:REUTERS

StormFiber, a Pakistani fibre broadband service provider, expanded its triple play (TV, Telephone and Internet) services to Multan.

Already functional in four major cities including Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Peshawar, StormFiber has set its sights on expanding its footprint across the country with Multan becoming it fifth market.

The introduction of fiber-based gigabit internet connectivity will help Multan bridge the digital infrastructure gap and bring it at par with global metropolitan cities.

Balochistan districts without internet for one year

Speaking at the launch event, StormFiber CEO Danish Lakhani said one of the primary impediments in increasing penetration of fibre broadband has been the high cost of bringing optical fibre to every home. “Our investors who are local Pakistanis have always taken a long-term view of projects and avoided those with purely short-term gain. Encouraged by our shareholders, Cybernet’s management team set out nearly a decade ago with a vision to bring highly stable, ultra-fast broadband, which is only possible today through fibre optics, to the far reaches of Pakistan,” he added.

Lakhani highlighted the immense impact of increased fiber broadband penetration on the GDP of countries. However, he added that the project was not without its challenges.

“Speaking purely as investors and for a company that is a direct contributor to the exchequer in terms of taxes, PTA licence fees, USF and APC dues, we faced tremendous challenges in obtaining right of way, ever increasing import duties and a regressive tax regime consisting of minimum tax, alternative corporate tax, advance income tax and provincial tax amongst others.”

The CEO stated that he wrote numerous letters and personally took a number of meetings to request help in resolving issues related to high taxes and right of way- all of which remain unresolved to date.

However, Lakhani stated that he is optimistic and believes that the next government will recognise the importance of IT and fixed broadband, and will resolve right of way issues and rationalise taxes that stand at a whopping 32% of every household broadband subscription.

Gilgit-Baltistan gets 3G, 4G internet service

“Compare this to the United States where the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom act is now a law, which specifically prohibits tax on broadband services for all times to come.

We hope the next government realises the importance of both types of infrastructure – highways for transport and highways for information technology.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2018.

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