In order to roll out 5G services in Pakistan, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had to overcome a number of obstacles and challenges, including low penetration rates for handsets and optical fibre cables (OFC), rising inflation, low average revenue per user (ARPU), and rising operating expenses (OPEX) combined with high taxation.
First of all, according to government documents, less than 1% of Pakistan’s mobile phone market is covered in 5G-capable devices, which is a significant barrier.
Although several industrialised nations have already implemented 5G technology, the Authority claimed that Pakistan still has difficulties offering such services. Some of the main elements that could affect the launch of 5G are poor OFC penetration, fewer possible use cases, reduced tower density, growing inflation, low ARPU, rising OPEX, such as increases in fuel and energy prices, mixed with high taxation.
International forecasts predict that 3.5 billion people will subscribe to 5G by the end of 2026, making up around 45% of all mobile traffic worldwide.
Due to Pakistan’s vast population and potential for future economic growth, timely 5G service rollouts and access to 4G are essential. People and enterprises alike benefit from 5G, which is made more apparent by the fact that its applications go beyond ICT.
The Authority added that Pakistan’s ability to stay up with regional advancements depends on the rollout of 5G.
The PTA and MoITT are working together to develop the Infrastructure Sharing Framework, the Spectrum Re-Farming Framework, Spectrum Sharing, National Roaming, and Ease-of-Doing-Business to accelerate 5G deployment despite issues that must be resolved before the government issues a thorough 5G policy.
PTA will employ a consultant to develop a suitable auction design with thorough recommendations that include incentives for investors, rollout models, implementation models, and the creation of varied use cases involving verticals once policy directives are in place for the commercial launch of 5G services.
In accordance with the government’s 5G roadmap, PTA will also work with the sector and other stakeholders to make comprehensive recommendations on the rollout of 5G in Pakistan.
To support 5G, we must increase the proportion of fiber-to-the-tower/site (FTTT/FTTS) networks. Other technological developments and breakthroughs, such as Wi-Fi 6E for improved latency, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and so forth, will be made possible for the growth of broadband.
In addition, the PTA will step up its current initiatives for regional and global partnerships in an endeavour to become a “Leading” G5 regulator and swiftly carry out the “Digital Pakistan” goal.
In addition to the government’s strategy on the availability of 5G services, the documents state that MoITT and PTA are shortly organising a spectrum auction in order to boost the spread of LTE, VoLTE, and 5G services. Successful 5G tests have already been carried out around the nation.
PTA will prioritise and assist in the deployment of 5G while also pursuing massive contiguous bandwidth availability.
The vast deployment of OFC, which connects micro base stations and edge nodes in the 5G network architecture, would be required for the impending 5G services; this will be a crucial factor boosting fibre optic demand.
The Pakistani government must establish adequate goals and put in place appropriate political means to speed up fiberization. The authority continued, “Expecting a 5G-ready infrastructure will demand infrastructure strengthening of the 4G network, particularly an increase in the ratio of FTTT/Site from the present 11% of the total installed OFC.”
The optical network and transmission system, however, confront a number of difficulties, such as installation difficulties, upfront installation costs, fibre cable cuts, and difficulties in isolating problems, among others.