ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, a country with around 18 per cent of Internet penetration and its geographical location, has a lot to offer to landlocked Central Asian states with crucial bandwidth access, which can turn Pakistan into regional connectivity hub for the entire region, says a report. The country, having a population of more than 185 million people, possesses the highest international connectivity in the region at 400Gbps out of Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. A document presented by the Information Security Operations Centre (ISOC) at the INet Conference says that this is due to the fact that all other countries are landlocked and they depend heavily on Russia for their international Internet connectivity of any sort. The ISOC, called the Internet Society, is an international organisation, which provides leadership in Internet-related standards, education, access and policy. Not to mention, these Central Asian countries have very low rate of international Internet connectivity – Afghanistan, for example has less than 30Gbps international bandwidth with other countries even having lower bandwidth – which means Pakistan can tap a lucrative market and help Internet uptake in these landlocked markets. “With its coastline and direct access to submarine cable landing points, low bandwidth cost and throughput, Pakistan sits in an enviable strategic position,” said the ISOC report that was shared with the media. The report said that Pakistan had all the potentials in place to bridge the access to the international submarine cables and provide greater bandwidth to the region as a whole. Pakistan, therefore, can become a natural “Southern Route” to connect Central Asia to international networks. The report said that as one might imagine, before eyeing lucrative Central Asian countries, Pakistan would have to enable and expand access to its own population. With 400Gbps, Pakistan currently has 9Kbps bandwidth per individual in the country and this is exactly where Pakistan has to improve in order to be considered as the connectivity hub for Central Asian markets. If Pakistan is able to capitalise on its strategic geographical location and position itself as a service provider of international bandwidth to its land-locked neighbours, it will consolidate these early transitional developments and help accelerate transformation of local digital economy. Moreover, a supply project called Central Asia – South Asia 1,000 megawatt (CASA 1,000) started by Tajikistan may also connect areas digitally, as discussion on a proposal is also under way to lay down a fibre optic cable along the power transmission line. The fibre optic cable currently in use uses a longer pathway to get to Pakistan since it goes to Europe from Russia before arriving in Pakistan. Tajikistan has a lot of potential for power production because their energy sector has received a large amount of investment, and that this in turn presents a great opportunity for Pakistan and Tajikistan to lay down the line.