Telecom providers have suggested that the government adopt a strategy to gain from 5G development instead of spectrum fees and taxes due to the substantial Capex and Opex requirements for introducing 5G in Pakistan.
Telecom companies have suggested tax reductions for local handset manufacture and spectrum costs. In Pakistan, one-window operations for ROW decisions are also becoming mandatory.
In 2014, Pakistan debuted 3G and 4G with well-developed systems. We can definitely advance in the 5G path. Still, the Pakistani government and Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MOITT) should provide incentives to ensure the success of this transition, operators continued.
Internationally, 5G has arrived, in South Asia, and will soon be available in Pakistan. The issue was also discussed at the South Asian Telecommunication Regulators’ Council (SATRC) Workshop on Policy, Regulation, and Services (PRS), which was held in Pakistan.
Spectrum harmonization must be one of the SATRC body’s main objectives, according to a telecom operator representative who made this statement during a presentation. To prevent problems or confrontations similar to those in the Gulf, this is crucial.
The importance of the subcommittee on spectrum harmonization is underscored by the fact that radio waves can travel across borders. In theory and in practice, regulatory and technical rules such as synchronization techniques, frame, and sub-frame sub-configuration, starting and ending frequencies of bands, unoccupied bands, and their causes, must be the same for all nations under SATRC.
The 5G spectrum or the bands for it have already been selected by the SATRC member nations for auction. The 5G spectrum was put up for auction, but India and Bangladesh are still using 4G. Very little 5G coverage is available in Iran and the Maldives. Nepal and Sri Lanka are currently through a trial.
In order to start their services in the nation, telecom operators had previously asked for 5G with the free spectrum for five years and no import duties on equipment and 5G handsets/devices.
According to official sources, the government is examining a number of options to roll out 5G at least in the nation’s largest cities. The country’s 5G spectrum was scheduled to be put up for auction by the previous administration as early as March 2023, with the initial rollout taking place in major cities. Official sources noted that it was not made possible because of the nation’s political unrest.
Senior government officials and members of the industry agree that the introduction of 5G will be difficult even by the end of December 2023, given the state of the nation’s economy in general and the telecom sector.
For the rollout of 5G services in the nation, telecom providers have made some proposals to the government.
Operators urged that a novel, significantly different, and workable 5G policy be introduced, taking the following factors into account:
- Free spectrum for the first five years and no import duties on machinery and 5G phones/devices,
- Any auction proposal should be made five years following the development of the use cases.
- The local production and import of 2G/3G handsets must be prohibited by policy action.
In response to requests from telecom operators, the Pakistani government will issue a policy direction for the deployment of 5G in the country, claims the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
To introduce 5G services throughout the nation, the Authority has also faced a number of obstacles and hurdles, including as low handset and optical fiber cable (OFC) penetration, growing inflation, low average revenue per user (ARPU), rising operating expenditures (OPEX), and excessive taxation.
First and foremost, the lack of 5G-capable handsets in Pakistan is a significant barrier; the country has fewer than 1% of all mobile devices. Although several industrialized nations have installed 5G technology, the Authority claimed that Pakistan faces difficulties in providing the aforementioned services.
Some of the main elements that could affect the launch of 5G include further poor OFC penetration, fewer possible use cases, decreased tower density, growing inflation, low ARPU, and rising OPEX such as an increase in fuel and power prices, along with high taxation.
By the end of 2026, 5G is expected to have 3.5 billion customers and generate about 45% of the world’s mobile traffic data.
The Authority added that Pakistan needs to adopt 5G immediately in order to keep up with regional trends. Despite obstacles that must be overcome before the government issues a thorough 5G policy.