Launch Of 5G Services Faces Optical Fibre Cable Penetration 

The upcoming 5G services will necessitate a massive deployment of OFC, which connects micro base stations and edge nodes in the 5G network infrastructure.

Launch Of 5G Services Faces Optical Fibre Cable Penetration 

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to launch 5G services in Pakistan faced several challenges and impediments, including low handset and optical fibre cable (OFC) penetration, rising inflation, a low average revenue per user (ARPU), and rising operating expenses (OPEX) combined with high taxation.

To begin with, official documents revealed that 5G handset penetration in the Pakistani market is a major impediment; the percentage of 5G-enabled handsets in the country is less than 1%.

While many developed countries have deployed 5G technology, the Authority stated that Pakistan faces challenges in providing such services. Low OFC penetration, fewer potential use cases, lower tower density, rising inflation, low ARPU, and rising OPEX, such as increases in fuel and electricity prices, combined with high taxation, are some of the key factors that may have an impact on 5G launch.

According to international projections, 5G will attract 3.5 billion subscriptions by the end of 2026, accounting for approximately 45 percent of the world’s total mobile traffic.

Pakistan’s large population, combined with the country’s potential for further economic growth, makes access to 4G and the timely launch of 5G services critical. 5G is benefiting people and businesses alike, more so because its usage transcends the ICT sector.

The Authority also stated that the introduction of 5G is critical for Pakistan to keep up with regional developments.

Despite challenges that must be addressed before the government issues a comprehensive 5G policy, 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.

Once policy directions are in place for the commercial launch of 5G services, PTA will hire a consultant to create a suitable auction design with comprehensive recommendations that include incentives for investors, rollout models, implementation models, and the development of diverse use cases involving verticals.

PTA will also collaborate with the industry and other stakeholders to provide detailed recommendations on 5G rollout in Pakistan, in accordance with the government’s 5G roadmap.

We need to increase the percentage of fiber-to-The-Tower/Site (FTTT/FTTS) to support 5G. Other technological advancements and innovations for broadband proliferation will be facilitated, such as Wi-Fi 6E for enhanced latency, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and so on.

Furthermore, the PTA will strengthen its ongoing efforts for national and international collaborations in order to achieve “Leading” G5 regulator status and to implement the “Digital Pakistan” vision proactively.

According to the documents, in addition to the government’s policy on the availability of 5G services, MoITT and PTA are planning a spectrum auction soon to increase the proliferation of LTE, VoLTE, and 5G services. The country has already conducted successful 5G tests.

PTA will also pursue large contiguous bandwidth availability, as well as prioritise and facilitate 5G deployment.

The upcoming 5G services will necessitate a massive deployment of OFC, which connects micro base stations and edge nodes in the 5G network infrastructure; this will be a key factor driving the growth of fibre optic demand.

To accelerate fiberization in Pakistan, the government of Pakistan must set appropriate targets and implement appropriate policy measures. “Expecting a 5G-ready infrastructure will necessitate infrastructure strengthening of the 4G network, especially an increase in the percentage of FTTT/Site from the current 11 percent of the total deployed OFC,” the authority added.

However, the optical network and transmission system face numerous challenges, including installation difficulty, preliminary installation cost, fibre cable cuts, and difficulty tracing faults, among others.