Pakistan set to outdo India in introducing 5G internet: PTA

Report says complementary demand for high-end cellphones will also increase

Usman Hanif December 06, 2017
Report says complementary demand for high-end cellphones will also increase. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Pakistan, a fast growing digital nation, will emerge as the first nation in South Asia to introduce 5G internet services, stated the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in its annual report.

It said that Pakistan would even beat the largest regional nation, India, on this front as the neighbouring country is also in the run for introducing the most advanced internet service.

“The real potential of 5G (in India) can only be realised post-2025,” Amresh Nandan, research director at advisory firm Gartner, told Quartz.

Pakistan has set its eyes on launching 5G technology by 2020 and preparations have begun to test 5G cellular connectivity, the first of its kind in South Asia, according to the PTA’s annual report for 2017.

Cabinet directs PTA to start conducting 5G tests on time

About two months ago, the federal cabinet allowed cellular companies to test 5G technology in Pakistan within the existing regulatory environment without charging the users. Network and cellular companies are conducting various lab and field tests to prepare themselves to launch the technology when it is ready.

“Yesterday, I visited a customer support centre of a cellular company and saw 5G signals on my mobile,” said Abdullah, a regular user of mobile internet services amongst millions of Pakistanis.

More than 87% of the population of Pakistan is covered by cellular mobile networks, out of which 70% are covered by 3G services while 30% can access 4G LTE services. Internet and broadband services are spreading to every nook and corner of the country, pushing the demand for more international and national connectivity, the report said, adding that international internet bandwidth is also increasing regularly.

While talking with The Express Tribune, Abdullah said he would have benefitted if he had a 5G compatible smartphone since smartphones in Pakistan are rarely compatible even with 4G technology. With the commencement of 5G services, experts state the market for high-end smart phones will also grow and mobile companies like IPhone which are not directly doing business in Pakistan may open up their stores here.

Security of Data and Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) is also an important issue for Pakistan due to its geo-political importance. In this regard, PTA is preparing guidelines for implementation by the telecom licensees.

In the wake of all the initiatives and regulatory actions, it is of utmost importance that the ICT developments in Pakistan are depicted on the national and international level.

Pakistan to test 5G mobile internet by 2020

Therefore, PTA has engaged the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to carry out a national survey for measuring the true level of ICT development in Pakistan. Subject to the issuance of Policy by the Government of Pakistan, the PTA has plans to auction more spectrums in 1800 MHz band for NGMS services, the report said.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2017.

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