By Sidra Saif

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has successfully, though very late, auctioned the 3G and 4G spectrum licences, however, a million dollars question arises whether an environment would be created where both public and private sectors would be able to cash in on this dramatically faster and set to be widely available mobile broadband internet across the country.

Now the government needs to immediately start work on a plan to maximize the benefits of broadband internet across the socio economic divide.

The leading telecom veterans are of the view that as the 3G-4G technology has come to Pakistan, there is a great opportunity for both the public and private sectors to capitalize on this development in order to further promote the progress in all sectors.

“It is a golden opportunity that Pakistan is going to enter a new advance phase of telecommunication. Unfortunately this phase should have been launched about 5-6 years back, however, even then we are not too late. What Pakistan has progressed in the cellular sector is not less than what the other states have achieved during this period,” remarked Arshad Khan, who is a telecom veteran and Chief Executive Officer of Ufone, while exclusively talking to the Technology Times at the occasion of the 3G-4G licences auction in Islamabad.

He said that the 3G-4G is not a service rather a technology and its benefits to the people are instant as now there is a need to understand that by using this technology what services we can launch to trigger economic boom in the country. Companies would have to introduce innovative services and develop contents to cater the local needs.

“Cellular operators need to play a major role because this technology, no doubt, would enhance the internet speed, but they have to do more than that for the benefit of people of all spheres,” he maintained.

To a question how people can get benefit of other contents until the government develops its own contents, the CEO Ufone said that it is long process, but by using this advance telechonology, education and healthcare services cane ensured in remote areas. “Ultimately, it will save time, trigger job opportunities and economic benefits as well,” he added.

Parvez Iftikhar, another telecom veteran and former chairman Universal Services Fund (USF), told this scribe that now it depends on telecom giants, companies and other experts to convert this technology into job opportunities.

He laid out a strategy to implement this high-speed broadband plan that would allow e-services in the areas of education, governance, health, agriculture and livestock to be delivered at citizens doorsteps. He explained that the governments themselves will have to become the biggest users of broadband, which will mean gradual re-engineering of governments own processes as well.

He suggested that apart from the USF and ICT RandD Fund, national and provincial government budgets should also be used for funding, in addition to investments from the private sector.

He recommend that following a comprehensive plan, a broadband eco-system should be built, which includes development of relevant contents in regional languages, rolling out e-services, raising awareness among citizens through targeted promotions, capacity building of public officials and general public towards ICT, and adoption of ICT-enabled services through shared access points.

For the implementation of such a plan, a large number of multiple stakeholders will need to contribute, which will require patronage and guidance will have to come right from the top.

To yet another question, he said that private companies will definitely develop contents that would certainly be for their own interest, but for education, healthcare and e-governance it is the responsibility of the government.

“Content development is not a big issue as the real task following the 3G-4G technology is to create awareness among the users about the services and contents to make benefit of it,” he asserted.

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