‘Already late, further delay in 3G auction to cost national economy dearly’

Every 10% increase in broadband penetration increases the GDP growth rate by 1%.

News Desk February 24, 2012

Delay in the auction of 3G/4G licenses is hindering growth in the telecom sector, which in turn means less jobs for youth and losses to the national economy. This was said by an information and communication technology expert on Thursday, said an SDPI press release.

Discussing the subject at the 57th meeting of Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s (SDPI) study group on internet and communication technologies in Islamabad, the experts also urged the government to focus on setting obligatory performance benchmarks instead of merely focusing on the revenue generated from the licenses’ auction.

They suggested that the government should make it mandatory for successful bidders to adequately invest and expand the sector as part of a long-term commitment to telecommunications in Pakistan.

The experts - ranging from academia to telecom industry to consultants and practitioners - lamented the government’s inability to introduce 3G even though the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) was ready to roll it out three years ago. Even now, as they mull over delaying the auction from end of March, other countries, including India, are already moving on to 4G.

Salman Ansari, CEO Telecommunication Consultants, said the future of mobile telecommunications would be dominated by data services (3G and 4G technologies) and voice would be “just an additional component”. Thus the government should switch over to 3G at the earliest.

Sharing global technology trends, he said that growth in fixed line broadband is shrinking whereas share of wireless broadband is persistently on the rise. He said currently there is confusion and lack of clarity in Pakistan over adopting 3G technology or leapfrogging directly to 4G technologies. Ansari believes the best solution for Pakistan is a hybrid approach, with 3G mobile broadband to optimise current assets before moving towards new and further advanced systems, network radio interfaces and spectrum.

He termed “National IT & Telecom Policy 2005” outdated and called for a coherent national action plan. He cautioned that without proper homework, desperate moves to switch to 3G may lead to failure.

Shahid Mahmood, CEO Interactive Group of Companies, said that further delay in 3G auction will adversely impact the economic growth potential of the telecom sector.

Redefining the 3G technologies in macro-economic context, he said that increasing the broadband speed leads to economic gains, as every 10% increase in broadband penetration increases the GDP growth rate by around 1%.

He said around 80 new jobs are created for every 1,000 new broadband connections in Pakistan. He called for identification of additional spectrum to enable broadband technology deployments.

Dr Ijaz Gilani, Chairman Gallop Pakistan, presided over the proceedings.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2012.


Ali | 9 years ago | Reply

I don't think there is much attraction in 3G or 4G for the telecom providers as far as the revenues are concerned. Realistically about 60% (people in small cities, towns and even majority in big cities including businesssmen, shopkeepers, labourers etc) of the mobile population in Pakistan are barely smart phone literate. Almost all of them use mobiles solely to make/receive calls. Another 10-15% (older people) thinks even a simple mobile phone is too complicated. That leaves the rest 20-30% which includes students, professional etc and even 70% of them use internet to apply for jobs, read news or check some celebrity websites and I think they would prefer to use their PC/Laptop instead of mobile phones (pakistani Mentality). That leaves very small minority and even of many of that minority will be put off by the higher prices of using data (it won't be as cheap as sending text messages) and on top of it 5 Telecom providers will be competing to get a bigger market share. Not a very strong business case for Telecom providers. I hope you get a picture: Pakistan is not ready for 3G/4G/LTE yet!

sukhdeep | 9 years ago | Reply why invest in 3g when 4g requires similar investment...why not go directly for 4g skip 3g ....
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