Due to obvious economic problems such import limits, fuel shortages, PKR depreciation, and rising spectrum prices, mobile operators have stated a lack of interest in 5G technology in the near future, which appears to have delayed the deployment of 5G network services in the country.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) informed the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication of these reasons for the anticipated delay in the adoption of 5G technology, according to an official document obtained by ProPakistani.
The paper recalls that the IT ministry released a draft set of 5G policy guidelines for stakeholder engagement in December 2021. The ministry provided PTA with feedback in April 2022. The telecom regulator assessed the Pakistani market’s preparation for 5G in light of the feedback it had received, and it found that cellular mobile operators (CMOs) had shown little enthusiasm for the impending introduction of the technology.
The PTA reportedly received the following arguments from CMOs as significant roadblocks to the implementation of 5G:
- Uncertain economic situation, import restrictions, an abrupt rise in fuel and electricity prices, PKR depreciation, high load-shedding, and increasing inflation restricting CMOs from properly planning investment in relation to 5G
- 5G spectrum affordability is considered a major challenge. Operators are requesting reasonable spectrum fees and relaxation in payment terms and license obligations
- Taxation relief, ROW policies, low 4G penetration, 5G devices affordability, spectrum availability (exact bandwidth) along with the price in PKR and payment terms clarity
- Facilitation from the government to improve business sustainability of the telecom sector by giving incentives to the industry
When asked, a PTA spokeswoman stated that the government will decide whether to introduce 5G.
The PTA spokeswoman said,
“PTA is prepared to move forward with the launch, but it is awaiting the policy direction for the auction of 5G spectrum, after which PTA may have the remaining task completed without delay.”
The research notes that 4G penetration in Pakistan is at 55.6 percent, while the fibre penetration rate to towers (towers that are connected with fibre) is at 11.4 percent, as the government mulls policy on whether it wants to introduce 5G for income or socioeconomic development.
According to the Mobile Connection Index 2021, which was cited in the paper, Pakistan behind Bangladesh and India in terms of mobile connectivity as of June 2022.
|Comparison of Mobile Connectivity Index 2019 & 2021 By GSMA|
|Country||Years||Index Score||Infrastructure||Affordability||Consumer Readiness||Content and Services|
Need of the Hour
For a successful 5G launch, telecom companies have underlined the importance of growing 4G penetration. They argued that there should be the greatest amount of spectrum available, particularly in the crucial 5G bands of 2300 (n40), 2500 (n41), and 3500 (n78), at reasonable costs and payment conditions.
According to best practices around the world, the operators requested a lowering of taxes to create a more inexpensive device ecosystem for smartphones, routers, and wearables. This was crucial for a successful 5G launch. Additionally, they requested assistance from the government to address RoW problems that are impeding fiberization.
According to the research, Pakistan must implement its 5G award strategy as soon as possible. The government must specify its goals for the rollout of 5G, whether they are to promote broadband use more widely, advance global socioeconomic growth, or generate cash.