Exclusive: The CPEC plan for Pakistan’s digital future

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KARACHI: A radical overhaul of Pakistan’s communications framework appears to be on the cards — or at least that is what Beijing and Islamabad have envisioned under their Long Term Plan (LTP) for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

A closer examination of the LTP document obtained in June by Dawn reveals intentions for a revamped communications framework, which includes components such as a fibre optic cable connecting Pakistan and China, a new submarine landing station for internet traffic flow, and digital TV for all.

The roadmap, which was developed from November 2013 to December 2015 by officials and experts from both countries, contains a detailed 21-page outline specific to communications – a plan envisioned to span up to 15 years, starting in 2016 and concluding in 2030.

The most critical component is a new, upgraded fibre optic cable network which spans Pakistan and crosses the border to connect directly with China.

A cross-border venture

As outlined in the master plan, the cross-border fibre optic cable will address multiple challenges faced by China and Pakistan.

Firstly, it says it will handle the anticipated increase in communication between the two countries. With “deepening comprehensive strategic cooperation” comes the need to establish fast, reliable connectivity – and perhaps most critically – communication that is not routed through Europe, the United States or India.

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