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PM launches Raast programme for fast digital transactions

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Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday launched the country’s first digital payment system ‘Raast’ for low-cost retail payments and money transfers. 

The Raast programme is a digital platform developed by the State Bank of Pakistan for remittances and transactions between citizens, businesses and government agencies. 

The digitally faster and easier system will facilitate the common man in accessing banking channels and electronic transactions.

At the same time, it will help various financial institutions, including commercial banks, microfinance institutions and banks, government agencies and Fintax, to access and connect to the central system at low-cost with time saving.

After its success at the level of direct business and investment last year, it has been launched at the level of citizens for the convenience of the common man. 

ALSO READ:  Ministry Of IT & Telecom Initiates Comprehensive 5G Planning In Pakistan
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5 Proactive SEO Practices to Help Your Content Rank Now and in the Future

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Search engine optimization is a dynamic digital marketing strategy. One day you’re at the top of the SERPs, and the next, Google knocks your business down to page two or stops promoting your pages entirely. 

It’s the nature of SEO: algorithms change, competitors re-optimize, keywords grow more competitive, and content, no matter how fresh, eventually becomes stale. 

So how can you maintain your rankings and optimize for now and the future? A proactive approach to SEO can help your business weather the changing landscape of search and prioritize what matters most. 

To stay ahead of the curve and above your competition in the SERPs, make sure your business is deploying these five SEO practices.

5 SEO practices for staying on top

1. Invest in high-quality content

Despite the changing landscape of search, Google’s north star has always remained the same: to provide high-quality, authoritative, and high-performing web content for users. Investing in quality content always provides the best ROI. Why? Because with every algorithm update, Google refines its ability to identify quality signals that indicate better content results.

If you start with the best content, you don’t have to constantly overhaul your pages when Google releases an update, although they may need a tune-up from time to time. In terms of how to create quality content from the get-go, do the following in your content creation:

  • Focus on providing the greatest value to users. Google’s ranking factors all add up to providing the most relevant, high-performing, and helpful content to searchers. 
  • Look at the content that is already ranking on page 1. What quality signals does Google appear to be responding to? Try to emulate them in your own content creation practices.
  • Don’t shy away from fresh ideas and use your industry knowledge. Google not only looks to the content on the page, but to expert authorship and sourcing.
  • Never use fluff, but aim for a greater topical depth. Although longer content is not a ranking factor, there is a strong correlation between longer content and higher positions.

2. Always be optimizing

One common mistake that site owners make is focusing on SEO only when they initially set up their website or first publish a piece of content. But Google wants to see that site owners are actively taking care of their websites.

Publishing new blogs, updating content, repairing broken links, and other regular tasks are SEO practices that are essential to showing Google that your website is high quality and worthy of ranking for the long-term. Make sure you are constantly improving these areas of your website to show Google crawlers that you also want to provide users with the best quality web experience:

  • Speed—Ensure your web pages load quickly, especially content above the fold. Using tools like PageSpeed Insights or the Search Atlas Site Audit tool can identify issues for your team to prioritize.
  • Mobile optimization—Mobile searches accounted for 61% of organic search engine visits in the United States and continue to account for more searches than desktops. This trend is not going to change; therefore, mobile-responsive design is a must. 
  • Web development and site organization—As your content library grows, your site infrastructure needs to be prepared. If users (and Google’s web crawlers) cannot find your content, it’s useless. Identify issues with regularly scheduled technical audits.
  • Updated content—Keep your content fresh. This not only involves updating the content on your pages, but culling outdated, low-traffic, or underperforming pages.
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3. Study search intent

Google has been working to better understand its users’ search intent from the beginning. So should you. Content marketing to support SEO only works if you’re providing value to your visitors, after all. 

To understand how to provide your organic visitors with value, you must understand the purpose of their search. Certain keywords imply a specific search intent. If your piece of content does not meet that search intent, not only will searchers bounce back to the search results, Google will most likely not even promote that content.

There are four primary types of search intent, and they will determine what type of content you want to create:   

  1. Navigational—When a user uses Google to find a specific website they have in mind. For example, someone looking for the AllBusiness website may type in “allbusiness articles.”
  2. Informational—The searcher wants to learn a specific piece of information; for example, “what is seo?” Informational keywords represent users who are looking for answers, expertise, or additional information through blogs, articles, or resource-driven pages.
  3. Transactional—The searcher is looking to explore shopping options, often for a specific service or product. Keywords like “men’s running shoes” or “plumbers near me” indicate a user who is ready to make a purchase and is wanting to see product- or service-related landing pages.
  4. Commercial investigation—The searcher is looking to purchase in the near future, but may not be ready to buy right now. Keywords like “best natural cleaning products” represent users who are looking to compare products for the ultimate goal of making a purchase.
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Not only will better meeting search intent help improve your keyword rankings overall, this SEO practice can also help improve conversion rates from organic clicks. After winning more visitors, you can then use conversion rate optimization (CRO) to further improve your pages’ ability to convert visitors to buyers.

Backlinks have always been the primary way that Google understands the authority of web pages and whether or not to promote them. Although content and page experience are important, Google’s No. 1 ranking factor still remains the same: backlinks.

Actively seeking out linking opportunities for your website is one of the most important SEO strategies that every business should implement, and it’s also the most impactful. One reason why top web pages stay at the top of the SERPs for years is because they have accumulated large amounts of PageRank via the many other websites that link to them. 

Although your business cannot control whether another website links to yours, there are ways that you can be proactively seeking out backlink opportunities and building offsite signals for your website. Some great ways to build links include:

  • Getting listed in online directories—For local businesses, in particular, this is one of the easiest and most affordable ways (under $100) to start building your site authority. Industry-specific directories are ideal for starting to build strong offsite or local signals in the eyes of Google crawlers.
  • Guest blogging—Webmasters and publishers are always on the hunt for good content. If you provide that content for them, it can often mean a link back to your website in your author byline, or even sometimes in the context of the article.
  • Outsource your link building—If you don’t have an in-house team to create original content or do manual outreach to other publishers in your industry, consider the help of a link-building agency. SEO and marketing agencies often have teams of content creators in-house and strong relationships with established websites.

Making link building outreach an integral part of your marketing and public relations efforts is one of the most important SEO practices you can implement. The efforts produce benefits across all of your web pages and elevate your SEO performance now and in the future.

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5. Leverage your SEO metrics

Your website’s search metrics are the equivalent of health vitals. Tracking your keyword rankings and other key search metrics can help you understand the overall health of your website and iterate on your SEO strategy to make more targeted, impactful optimizations. 

If you see a sudden drop in one of your top-performing pages, it’s time to jump into action. If your CTRs, site visibility, and overall keyword positions have an upward trajectory, your strategy is most likely working, and you should redeploy similar optimizations on other pages of your website.

Although organic clicks are the ultimate goal of search engine optimization, there are other key performance metrics your business should be tracking:

  • Impressions—The number of times a page on your site has appeared in search results. Lots of impressions for multiple relevant keywords is one of the first signals that your optimizations are on the right track.
  • Total keywords—The total number of keywords that your website (or a specific web page) ranks for. Longer, in-depth content, and publishing more content to your website, can increase the total number of keywords your web pages show up for in search.
  • Rank position—The position of your web pages in the SERPs for a specific keyword queries. Higher positions earn more organic clicks, so identifying keywords where your web pages can rank in position 1-3 are essential to ranking for the long-term.
  • Site authority—An authority metric that quantifies a website’s offsite signals through backlinks and referring domains. The most popular site authority metrics include Domain Rating and Domain Authority.

Paying attention to these SEO vitals, and leveraging them to your advantage, is one of the most essential SEO practices to earn organic rankings in the short term and maintain those top positions over the years.

Google rewards proactive SEO practices

When you take a best practices, proactive approach, Google responds. Google likes to see site owners take the time to update their content and page experience and improve upon it for users.

The results? Longevity, stability, and less troubleshooting and revision in the future. It also means sustainable, scalable growth that helps your business maintain your content’s foothold in the SERPs for the long haul.

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Digital

Internet: A luxury or necessity

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The internet is the world’s largest computer network, linking millions of computers. It has become an integral part of our daily lives. The effective use of the internet makes our lives easier, faster, and simpler. It is critical to understand that the Internet is a global network of physical cabling, which can include copper telephone wires, television cables, and fiber optic cables. Even wireless connections, such as Wi-Fi and 3G/4G, rely on physical cords to connect to the Internet.

The internet provides us with facts and data, as well as information and knowledge, to aid in our personal, social, and economic development. All of this is possible by connecting a computer to the Internet, generally known as going online. When someone says a computer is online, it simply means it is linked to the Internet. The internet can be used for a variety of purposes; however, how we utilize the internet in our daily lives is determined by our particular needs and goals. It’s no secret that the internet is becoming an increasingly important part of our daily lives.

Problem statement

The Internet not only became one of the most widely utilized commodities, but it also improved dramatically, becoming the most marketable entity since then. We used to live without the internet, just as we used to live without electricity but in the contemporary it is unimaginable. A huge number of researches have been done on the importance of internet, it’s role in our lives  but my research is specifically focused on how has the pandemic highlighted that the internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity in today’s world.

Objective

Theoretically, the purpose of this study is to determine the following research objectives:

  • To assess the importance of  Internet
  • To analyse that the internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity in today’s world

Research question

How has the pandemic highlighted that the internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity?

Literature review

The literature is based on detailed analysis of internet and the use of internet in our lives. The importance of internet has been discussed in various research papers. Based on available literature, it is critical to expand knowledge in this area. As a result, this study is proposed to be a comprehensive study based on detailed analysis of how the internet is not a luxury anymore and how it has become a necessity, as the pandemic has proved.

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Methodology

To achieve this research’s major objectives, I have used an interpretive approach that focused on the importance of internet in our lives that has been highlighted during the pandemic and has changed the perception of humans about the access to the internet. The research is deductive in nature as it examines the data which is qualitative and narrative in nature and it is obtained from the credible secondary sources consisted of official documents, academic studies, articles and reports.

Research Analysis

There are some things in life that we perceive to be a necessary part of our daily lives. However, a few years ago, the same things were either non-existent or viewed as luxury rather than a necessity – the internet being one of them. Internet access is a basic requirement of modern life for me and most individuals I know. When the internet first arrived in Pakistan in the 1990s, it was not only pricey, but many people predicted that it would not remain long owing to its complexities.

Fortunately, they were all incorrect. The Internet not only became one of the most widely utilized commodities, but it also improved dramatically, becoming the most marketable entity since then. We used to live without the internet, just as we used to live without electricity or indoor plumbing back in the days, but life with each of these things is so much better than life without them that we all agree that everyone should have them. But from 2000’s the internet has become critical for day-to-day tasks.

It is the only way we can communicate with and care for close friends and family living far away, most of the institutions have started providing services online, For example, if we want to take admission in a university, we will have to fill an online application form, but it is only possible if we have internet access. So now, we have compelling reasons to recognize a right to Internet access. If there was any doubt about how important internet access is, the current coronavirus outbreak might has eliminated it.

 When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out earlier this year, much of the world went online, hastening a decades-long digital change. Children with at-home Internet access began attending class remotely; many employees began working from home. Universities also moved teaching and tutoring online, which has produced issues for students who do not have or do not have enough Internet connectivity. During the pandemic, most people could only work if they can do so online. Those who do not have access to the Internet are unable to apply for jobs that need them to work online. Working and learning from home, have all been made possible by the internet. Seeing friends and going to the doctor without exposing yourself or others became possible during the lockdown because of the access to the internet. The world  recognized that the unavailability of internet is a dilemma for people and states.

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Furthermore, practicing political rights like as free speech and free assembly are only feasible virtually under quarantine. Access to politically relevant information, such as scientific research and other information that helps citizens to form their own opinions about how the government is handling the pandemic, is also important. These examples demonstrate that the Internet provides critical infrastructure for many essential activities in the current pandemic. In such a context, a lack of effective internet access jeopardizes individual liberties and is thus particularly a serious social concern. Our dependence on internet during the coronavirus crisis has reshaped how we will act once the pandemic has passed. The real lesson is that we have made the internet an essential element of our personal and professional life. This isn’t about to change. The pandemic has introduced a new narrative or worldview in which we rely on the internet to bring economic and social activities to us rather than us going to them.

So  access to Internet is not only one of the most visible, but also one of the most shocking inequities shown by COVID-19.This  might surprise you but even in developed countries, internet availability is frequently less than you might expect. Take, for example, the United States. More than 6% of the population (21 million people) do not have access to the Internet. In Australia, this figure is 13%. Even in the richest countries, the internet cannot keep everyone connected. In addition, 3.7 billion individuals do not have access to the internet. The vast majority live in underdeveloped countries. More than one billion children worldwide are currently barred from attending school due to quarantine procedures. Even though teachers hold daily online lessons, many of these children are unable to participate due to the unavailability of Internet.

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When we say internet access is a necessity not a luxury, this narrative is also supported by the increase in  number of internet users over time.  Since 2005 to 2019 there has been a sharp increase in the penetration of internet.

According to Statista’s report, the statistics of internet penetration globally are as follows:

Number of internet users worldwide from 2005 to 2019 (fig 1)

There were 4.66 billion active internet users globally in January 2021, accounting for 59.5 percent of the global population. 92.6 percent (4.32 billion) of this total accessed the internet. A world without the internet is now unthinkable. Now the internet, which connects billions of people globally, is a key pillar of the modern world.

The focus on the pandemic should not cause us to lose sight of how important the Internet has become during normal days as well. Online access has become part of the routine to the majority of us. Every day, we utilize the Internet for a variety of purposes, both significant and insignificant. Most of us couldn’t fathom working or communicating with loved ones without it. This is not the case for a large percentage of people. A reclaimable right to basic internet access would significantly improve their lives. Along with the daily use, Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated unequivocally that the Internet is no longer a luxury, a convenient addition to those who can afford it. Internet access, on the other hand, has become a basic requirement. All we need to do is shift our perception of internet access from a luxury to a necessity.

Recommendations and Conclusion

To sum up everything that has been discussed so far it is past time for us to acknowledge the fundamental relevance of internet access. It is the right time to value internet access in the same way that we value electricity, drinking water, and paved roads. Each is necessary for a healthy and prosperous society, which is why we spend so much money to make these requirements available across the country. To be sure, the problem of providing and regulating inexpensive internet access for everyone is complex and costly, but it is not impossible. Governments should work on making the availability and affordability of internet a possibility for the people- because there is no denying to this; that in the contemporary world the access to internet has become a necessity.

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How 5G puts airplanes at risk – an electrical engineer explains

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New high-speed cellphone services have raised concerns of interference with aircraft operations, particularly as aircraft are landing at airports. The Federal Aviation Administration has assured Americans that most commercial aircraft are safe, and AT&T and Verizon have agreed to hold off on installing their new cellphone antennas near airports for six months. But the problem has not been entirely resolved.

Concerns began when the U.S. government auctioned part of the C-band spectrum to wireless carriers in 2021 for US$81 billion. The carriers are using C-band spectrum to provide 5G service at full speed, 10 times the speed of 4G networks.

The C-band spectrum is close to the frequencies used by key electronics that aircraft rely on to land safely. Here’s why that can be a problem.

Keeping order on the spectrum

Wireless signals are carried by radio waves. The radio spectrum ranges from 3 hertz to 3,000 gigahertz and is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The portion of the radio spectrum that carries the signals from your phone and other wireless devices is 20 kilohertz to 300 gigahertz.

If two wireless signals in the same area use the same frequency, you get garbled noise. You hear this when you are midway between two radio stations using the same or similar frequency bands to send their information. The signals get garbled and sometimes you hear one station, at other times the other, all mixed with a healthy dose of noise.

Therefore, in the U.S., the use of these frequency bands is tightly regulated by the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that radio stations, wireless carriers and other organizations are assigned “lanes,” or frequency spectra, to use in an orderly fashion.

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Bouncing radio waves off the ground

Modern airplanes use altimeters, which calculate the time it takes for a signal to bounce back from the ground to determine a plane’s altitude. These altimeters are a vital part of automatic landing systems that are especially useful in cases where there is low visibility.

A hand on an aircraft yoke in front of a multicolor display panel
The radio altimeter in an aircraft tells the pilot how far off the ground the aircraft is. AP Photo/Rob Griffith

So, if an altimeter interprets a signal from a wireless carrier as the rebounded signal from the ground, it may think that the ground is closer than it is and prematurely try to lower the landing gear and do the other maneuvers that are needed to land an aircraft. If interference with wireless carrier signals corrupts and garbles the altimeter’s radio signals, the altimeter may not recognize the rebounded signal and thus be unable to figure out how close to the ground the plane is.

[Understand new developments in science, health and technology, each week. Subscribe to The Conversation’s science newsletter.]

The portions of the radio frequency spectrum used by airplanes and cellphone carriers are different. The problem is that airplane altimeters use the 4.2 to 4.4 gigahertz range, while the recently sold – and previously unused – C-band spectrum for wireless carriers ranges from 3.7 to 3.98 gigahertz. It turns out the 0.22 gigahertz difference between the signals may not be quite enough to be absolutely sure that a cellphone carrier signal will not be mistaken for or corrupt an altimeter’s signal.

Four vertical rectangular devices mounted on the corner of a roof of a building with a church spire in the background
Full-speed 5G signals like those in services that wireless carriers are currently rolling out might interfere with aircraft altimeters. AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Steering clear of trouble – for now

The telecommunication industry has argued that the gap of 0.22 gigahertz is enough and there will be no interference. The airline industry has been more cautious. Even if the risk is very small, I believe the consequences of a plane crash are enormous.

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Who is correct? The chances of such interference are very small, but the truth is that there isn’t much data to say that such interference will never happen. Whether there will be interference depends on the receivers in the altimeters and their sensitivity. In my view, there is no way to ensure that such stray interfering signals will never reach altimeters.

If the altimeters can register the stray signals as noise and filter them out, then they can function correctly. Upgrading aircraft altimeters is a costly proposition, however, and it’s not clear who would pay the cost.

The FAA has been testing altimeters and clearing ones that can be relied on in the near future. AT&T and Verizon have agreed to not put up 5G transmitters and receivers near the 50 largest airports for six months while a solution is being worked out. This has averted a major crisis in the near term, but it isn’t a permanent solution.

Moreover, regional airlines and rural airports remain at risk of interference.

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