Launch Of 5G Services Faces Optical Fibre Cable Penetration 

The meeting was informed by a member of the IT Ministry that illegal SIMs were to blame for financial crimes.

Launch Of 5G Services Faces Optical Fibre Cable Penetration 

The National Assembly Standing Steering Committee on Information Technology was briefed by a telecom industry delegation that the launch of 5G technology in Pakistan would be impossible given the rise in electricity prices.

Naz Baloch, a member of the standing committee, presided over the gathering. The committee was informed by representatives from the telecom sector that the recent economic crisis had significantly reduced the industry’s profit margin. They claimed that the sector contributed 1.5% of its profits to Pakistan’s Universal Service Fund.

Additionally, they were unable to import equipment for the telecom industry because letters of credit could not be opened, which impaired service. They requested that the committee make recommendations to the federal government in order to address their issues.

The meeting was informed by a member of the IT Ministry that illegal SIMs were to blame for financial crimes. He claimed that in order to prevent the issuance of illegal SIM cards, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had begun live biometric verification. Now, he declared, SIM cards wouldn’t be distributed based on fake fingerprints.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has identified several challenges and impediments to launch 5G services in the country, such as low handset and optic fibre cable (OFC) penetration, increasing inflation, low ARPU, and rising operating expenses. 5G handset penetration in the country is less than one percent, making it difficult to launch 5G services.

Although many developed nations have installed 5G technology, the officials claimed that Pakistan faces difficulties in providing the aforementioned services.

Additionally, low OFC penetration, fewer possible use cases, lower tower density, rising inflation, low ARPU, rising OPEX, including an increase in fuel and electricity prices, combined with high taxation, are some of the major factors that could affect the launch of 5G. According to international predictions, 5G will sign up 3.5 billion subscribers by the end of 2026, producing roughly 45% of the world’s mobile traffic data.

Pakistan’s large population and potential for further economic growth make access to 4G and the timely launch of 5G services an absolute necessity. 5G is creating unprecedented opportunities for people and businesses, and it is important for Pakistan to keep pace with regional developments.

Despite challenges, the PTA and MoITT are working together to formulate the Infrastructure Sharing Framework, Spectrum Re-Farming Framework, Spectrum Sharing, National Roaming, and Ease of Doing Business to accelerate 5G deployment.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) will seek the services of a consultant to devise a suitable auction design and provide detailed recommendations on 5G rollout in Pakistan. To support 5G, the PTA will increase the percentage of Fibre-To-The Tower/Site (FTTT/FTTS).

Other technological developments and innovations for broadband proliferation, such as Wi-Fi 6E for enhanced latency and Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR), will also be facilitated.

The PTA will also work with the industry and other stakeholders to achieve “Leading” G5 regulator status and proactively implement the “Digital Pakistan” vision.

The MoITT and PTA are planning a spectrum auction for enhanced proliferation of LTE, Voice over LTE (VoLTE), and 5G services. Successful 5G tests have already been carried out in the country, and the PTA will pursue the availability of large contiguous bandwidth and prioritise and facilitate the roll-out of 5G.

To ensure a 5G-ready infrastructure, the 4G network will need strengthening, and the optical network and transmission system are beset with challenges such as installation difficulty, preliminary installation cost, fibre cable cuts, and difficulty in tracing faults. The government of Pakistan needs to set suitable targets and take appropriate policy measures to accelerate fiberization in Pakistan.