Pakistan will hold spectrum auction for 5G services in 2023 — PTA
KARACHI: Pakistan is gearing up to roll out 5G mobile phone services in the country by fiscal year 2022-2023 with an auction of unused telecom spectrum, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said last week in a report.
The spectrum is in the 1800 and 2100 MHz bands typically used by operators for 4G LTE (long-term evolution) networks that offer faster video streaming and Internet downloads.
“PTA is aiming for auctions of spectrum for proliferation of LTE and VoLTE (Voice over Long-Term Evolution) Services in FY 2021 and 5G services in FY 2023,” PTA said.
Once implemented, this will place Pakistan among a legion of emerging market countries such as Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, India and Sri Lanka– all of which are planning to launch the ultra-fast mobile internet service in the next two years.
The country has some 91 million 3G/4G subscribers, and the upcoming auction is seen a precursor to any 5G launch.
To ensure spectrum availability which is a critical resource for broadband proliferation, PTA said it has geared up efforts to hire international consultants for the market valuation and auction of spectrum in 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz.
“The availability of additional spectrum in 1800 MHz will also enable operators to expand their existing 4G operations and transition to advanced technologies,” PTA said.
By 2023, the economic contribution of the mobile industry in Pakistan is estimated to reach $24 billion, 6.6% of GDP, GSMA estimates.
Pakistani mobile phone operators including China Mobile Pakistan (CMPak) that operates under Zong 4G, Jazz and Telenor conducted 5G trials in August 2019, January 2020 and March 2020. These were among the first trials of 5G services in any South Asian country, with a recorded download speed of more than 1 Gigabits per second (Gbps), making Pakistan a pioneer of 5G trials in the region, according to PTA.
The first 5G call between Islamabad and Beijing was made in November 2020. Zong 4G became the first Pakistani operator to make the country’s pioneering 5G NSA (Non-Standalone Access) call in collaboration with Beijing Mobile. The NSA setup allows operators to leverage their existing network investments in communications and mobile core, instead of deploying a new core for 5G.
Destined to become the future of communication technology, the 5G services are forecast to grow from “0 in 2018 to 2.8 billion connections in 2025,” according to a June 2020 report by the GSM Association (GSMA), an industrial body representing mobile network operators from across the world.
Recently, Syed Amin Ul Haque, Federal Minister for IT & Telecommunication told Arab News that 5G operates on optic fiber and that the government was working on this basic requirement in addition to improving and modernizing required infrastructure.
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