MELBOURNE: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is taking the next step towards high-speed internet and long-term evolution (LTE) networks.
However, it needs to be aware of the importance of value-added applications in 3G services, regarding rural telephony, as it is now focusing on improving and spreading telephone services in far-flung areas.
Former PTA chairman Dr Muhammad Yasin has already taken an initiative to introduce the concept of consultancy. A new division – Strategy and Development – would work as a think tank and advise the authority on dealing with future telecom infrastructure constraints.
The consultancy centre will be located on the proposed PTA platform for developing innovative communication policies and services for carriers, carriage service providers and content service providers. It will be a true incubation centre open to anyone with an idea of telecom services.
To be relevant, such services must respond to local needs and remove the constraints imposed by IT agencies. PTA should closely consider the recommendations in collaboration with the IT boards in all provinces, especially the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB).
The role of PITB has to be widened, most importantly, in order of priority, in relation to the relevance of the innovative idea in terms of 3G/4G services, the credibility of IT recommendations, and the technical and methodological competences.
People at the IT board of each province should be trained for a certain period in the use of products pertaining to high speed, methodologies and support while implementing the main codes, rules and guidelines governing particular aspects of telecommunications, developed by PTA and IT boards of provinces.
It is important to mention here that standard rules or guidelines similar to content ownership and industry codes, should be determined jointly by the PITB and PTA.
Technical standards should cover technical parameters of customer equipment, such as cables and networks. In the end, PTA should certify the operators.
Much of the South Asian region is enjoying high levels of telecom growth. But in Pakistan, infrastructure and subscriber growth patterns seem unrivalled with the telecom sector experiencing unusually high growth.
It is Pakistan’s mobile market that is driving the vibrancy and in turn it is high level of competition and investment as well as low tariffs and strong consumer demand that are powering mobile growth.
The main objective of the 3G/4G project is to develop and enrich the portfolio of services and applications that can be delivered through the telecommunication wire-line and 3G wireless networks.
No doubt the future 3G licensing will not only attract hefty revenue, but will also lead to network upgrade that will assist local and foreign operators to materialise their dreams and transform them into an industrial reality.
PTA should issue policy guidelines and strategies to ISPs, cellular mobile, and LDI, LL and WLL operators to address illegal call termination/origination and the ownership of digital mobile content.
While approving a licence to upgrade the overall network from 2.5G to 3G, there must be guidelines and a few approaches to resolve certain issues such as illegal commercial/anti-state usage of high-speed data.
The result will be a win-win situation where all stakeholders will benefit from the large dissemination of such services.
These are core issues, although the problem looks hard to tackle due to certain reasons:
First, telecommunication fraud has always been difficult to control and as technology advances, it is often the bad guys who exploit it first. Second, there was no comprehensive thought plan for tackling this at the moment either with PTA/PITB and IT agencies of other provinces.
Background and justification
In the spirit of the MDG and its eighth goal (in collaboration with the private sector, make available the benefit of new technologies – especially information and communication technologies), the UN convened a World Summit on Information Society with the agenda “Bridging the digital divide”.
Bridging the digital divide is a tremendous challenge that can only be overcome through a mixture of technological innovation, international collaboration and innovative approaches and strong ties between IT and telecom sectors to simulate and formulate ICT concept.
Therefore, rolling out of 3G/LTE project is a good illustration of innovation but it must be in collaboration with PITB where ICT leader teams would be monitoring the public and private stakeholders in order to facilitate innovative approaches to bridge the digital divide and wherever necessary acting as a task force to identify the issues and regulations.
The writer is manager of ICT services CFA Victoria, Australia
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2014.