Pakistan to Start Contract-Based Smartphone Policy from Jan 15

Pakistanis will soon be able to buy the latest smartphones on easy installments, thanks to a new policy announced by the interim government.

The ‘Contract-based Smartphones Policy’ will start from January 15, 2024, and will allow telecom companies to offer customers a range of smartphone models on flexible payment plans, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication.

The policy aims to increase smartphone penetration and mobile broadband usage in the country, especially among the low-income segments of society, who often face barriers to access such devices due to high upfront costs.

Federal Caretaker Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, Dr. Umar Saif, unveiled the policy at a press conference in Islamabad, where he said that the initiative would also promote responsible financial behavior among consumers.

He said that the policy was developed after extensive consultations with key stakeholders, including mobile network operators, handset manufacturers, banks, and regulators.

He explained that the policy would work as follows: Customers would choose a smartphone model from a list of approved devices offered by telecom companies, and sign a contract with them for a specified period, ranging from six to 24 months. The customers would pay a monthly installment, which would include the cost of the device, the service charges, and the taxes. The customers would also have to provide their biometric verification and national identity card details.

Dr. Saif said that the policy would have strict safeguards to prevent defaults and frauds. He said that if a customer failed to pay the installment for two consecutive months, the telecom company would have the right to block the smartphone, rendering it unusable. He added that in case of repeated defaults, the customer’s national identity card would also be blocked, preventing them from availing any other services or benefits from the government.

He said that the policy would create a win-win situation for both the customers and the telecom companies, as the former would get access to affordable and advanced smartphones, while the latter would increase their revenues and customer loyalty.

He said that the policy would also have a positive impact on the economy, as it would boost the demand for smartphones, create employment opportunities, and enhance digital literacy and inclusion.

Dr. Saif also announced another initiative to improve the quality of education in the country. He said that the ministry would conduct ‘Standardized Quality Measurement Tests’ for university students across the country from January 7 to 10, 2024. He said that the tests would assess the students’ knowledge and skills in various subjects, and provide feedback to the universities and the students on their performance and areas of improvement.

He said that the tests would help the universities to benchmark their standards, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and devise strategies to enhance their quality. He said that the tests would also help the students to prepare for competitive exams and job markets.

He said that the ministry would collaborate with the Higher Education Commission, the National Testing Service, and the universities to conduct the tests, which would be online and free of cost.

He urged the students to register for the tests and take advantage of this opportunity to improve their academic outcomes.

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