The report of the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) testing 1 terabit per second on its Metro Transport Network is good news for technology and innovation in Pakistan. The speed, however, does not mean that the individual consumer will be able to access all of this on their routers at home or the office—this means that the network is now capable of transmitting data packets up to 1 tbps in total, which has to be divided among all end users.

On the scale of the global market, this speed is not altogether significant. High-speed networks worldwide are currently reaching speeds of over 20 tbs per second; our current levels pale in comparison. But building the national network takes time and can only happen gradually.

Beyond testing high speeds, however, the most important thing in improving the network for data transmission and the internet is all about location and redundancy. We have seen how subsea cable outages have affected the whole network in Pakistan. For this to change, investments must be made in opening up more routes in all directions for Pakistan to connect with other regions and countries. This will help ensure that there are multiple routes for data to be transmitted, improving speeds between regions, but also allowing for a more resilient and reliable network.

On another level, improving the network within the country will entail investment in ensuring that far-flung regions, such as those in the north and Balochistan, also get adequate coverage. There is immense potential for remote working and freelance employment with a vast talent pool in these areas—just like the rest of Pakistan—and internet speeds and a lot of downtime are major stumbling blocks. This is something that PTCL and other providers must continue to focus on. Pakistan’s internet landscape has been improving gradually in the past decade, but telecommunication companies could still be doing a lot more to make reliable and fast internet access a possibility for all our citizens.