Regulator may allow telecom companies to adopt 4G on 3G licence

Country could become first in South Asia if plan is implemented.

Omair Zeeshan March 12, 2011


Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Muhammad Yaseen has hinted at the possibility of allowing telecom operators to use 4G (fourth generation) technology on 3G licences, as consumers are increasingly getting used to high-speed data and quick access to information.

“Since licence is technology-neutral, it is the commercial choice of an operator,” Yaseen told The Express Tribune, while responding to a question about whether it would be more feasible to skip 3G altogether and go for 4G. When asked that this meant that the operators will be able to go for either 3G or 4G, he replied: “Yes”.

The PTA chairman had earlier started a discussion on his personal web log on the important question of whether Pakistan should go for a 3G network or skip it and go directly to 4G. Pakistan will be the first country in South Asia to launch the 4G service if the plan is implemented.

A telecom industry expert pointed out that some telecom operators have acquired equipment that is forward-compatible with some forms of 3G system, which analysts believe was a smart and progressive move. “This will probably be the best solution, since telecom companies which have already acquired 3G technology would be able to utilise it, while companies which have not, will still be able to invest in 4G equipment,” said an analyst.

Analysts point out that the 4G network has speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, which is 10 times higher than the fastest 3G network.

However, the analyst pointed out that this would only likely be the case if the PTA definition allows for technologies such as Mobile-WiMAX and LTE (Long-Term Evolution) to come under the umbrella of 4G. Some of the technologies used under the banner of 4G are backwards compatible with the 3G spectrum, while some are not.

Some industry insiders bemoaned that the time for 3G has already lapsed and Pakistan should have had it two years ago, as other countries are now looking to upgrade their 3G network to 4G. “Our telecommunication authority has let us down as far as 3G is concerned,” said an observer.

A few days ago, Saudi Arabia announced that it had planned to roll out its first 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network. A week before that, four of Russia’s largest cellphone companies struck a deal on a shared 4G rollout by 2014. Most major networks in the United States are already upgrading to 4G or systems which give them similar speeds.

However, a debate is still on regarding the precise definition of 4G as there are lots of technologies that come within its ambit. Generally speaking, most of the technologies that come under the umbrella of 4G are faster and specifically designed for faster mobile data usage, compared with 2G and 3G, which were mainly designed for voice services. It is because of this feature that bandwidth-intensive services such as video streaming will work better with 4G.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2011.


shahid | 10 years ago | Reply Analysts point out that the 4G network has speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, which is 10 times higher than the fastest 3G network.. lets go beyond, its not time to 3g its time 4g,
Waheed Ullah | 10 years ago | Reply Assalam o alaikum my dear brother your report is very good and i appreciate your work. yes i am also in favor of your opinion Pakistan telecom companies should adopt 4G technology to spread the usage of internet that student go for their research work. your truly, Waheed ullah
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