Pakistanis object to new 19.5% internet tax

09 Jun 2015

Pakistani operators and consumers are objecting to a new 19.5% sales tax on fixed and mobile internet usage, arguing it will have an adverse impact on mobile operators' expansion plans.

The government imposed the new tax through a notification issued late last month, Pakistan's Daily Timesreported.

The new taxes apply to all internet services including 3G, 4G, DSL, EVDO and fiber.

Pakistani internet users users are planning a country-wide internet blackout campaign by local websites and bloggers in protest of the new taxes, the report states.

Sohaib Sheikh, president of Pakistan's ICT Think Thank (ICT3), has meanwhile warned that the new taxes could have a damaging impact on the nation's mobile sector.

Operators have invested around $1.2 billion in 3G/4G licenses, but the government did not consider these investments when imposing the large tax, Sohaib said.

The move could have an adverse effect on the mobile operators' future expansion plans, in turn impeding the adoption of 3G and 4G services and the attendant economic benefits of mobile internet adoption.

Mobile operators in Pakistan signed up a combined 15 million 3G/4G users in just one year after launch, but this impressive take-up rate is threatened by the new internet tax.

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