According to top IT Ministry sources, the rollout of 5G technology in Pakistan will take place over a 10-month period, and the administrative measures required in terms of fiscal and regulatory interventions for cellular mobile operators to take part in the 5G spectrum auction are already underway.
The Pakistani government needs to finish the process of introducing 5G technology throughout the nation within eight to ten months.
Dialogue With Stakeholders, Telcos
The coverage and growth of 5G technology across the nation within the allotted time is the government’s main objective. According to officials, the IT Ministry has organized many meetings with telecom companies and other interested parties in order to hasten the launch.
The Ministry of IT and Telecom is aiming to provide tenable incentives/initiatives to engage telcos and stakeholders involved while keeping in mind the current economic scenario.
10-Month Timeline for 5G Launch
First, the government would communicate to all stakeholders that it is going to launch 5G and would prepare a draft policy directive.
Sources said the approved policy would be shared with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Frequency Allocation Board (FAB). The FAB would be required to specify frequency bands, while the PTA would conduct the required process.
After getting the policy directive for the auction of 5G from the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom, the PTA would issue an RFP (Request for Proposal) for hiring a 5G consultant firm for the auction.
After the submission of bids, technical evolution and later opening of financial bids would be conducted. Subsequently, an agreement would be signed with the qualified consultant. The consultant(s) hired for the purpose will be responsible for procuring the auction in a transparent, professional, and profitable manner.
The consultant would require at least two months to complete the report and submit it to the auction advisory committee. After approval, it would be sent to the ECC and then to the cabinet where approval would be granted for benchmarks, prices, and bands.
The PTA, after this, would publish an Information Memorandum (IM). Later, an auction would be held and spectrum award and payment would be undertaken. All the deadlines given are a sort of ideal situation where no objection or court intervention is included.
Dr. Umar Saif, the interim federal minister for information technology and telecommunications, recently declared that Pakistan will introduce 5G services within ten months.
As a result of the significant Capex and Opex requirements for the introduction of 5G in Pakistan, telecom providers have suggested that the government adopt a model to profit from 5G developments instead of spectrum fees and taxes. Telecom companies have suggested tax discounts in spectrum costs and applications for local phone production, according to official records.
In Pakistan, one-window procedures for ROW judgments are also becoming a need, they continued. In 2014, Pakistan debuted 3G and 4G with very advanced technology. We can definitely advance in the 5G path, but the Pakistani government and Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MOITT) should provide incentives to ensure the success of this transition, operators continued.
Operators urged that a novel, substantially new, and workable 5G policy be introduced, taking the following factors into account;
- Any proposal for an auction should be made after five years,
- once use cases have been established and policy involvement is necessary to prohibit the local production and import of 2G/3G handsets.
- Additionally, free spectrum should be offered for the first five years with no taxes applied to the import of equipment and 5G handsets/devices.
By the end of March 2023, the country’s two previous administrations intended to hold an auction for the 5G spectrum, with the initial rollout taking place in major cities. However, insiders added that the plan was affected by political unrest, economic hardship, and obstacles to LCs.
Sources claimed that less than 1% of users in the country could buy such handsets, making it difficult for 5G to present a viable business case in the next two years. People believe that if 5G is introduced in the nation, better internet would be available, but government initiatives for wider adoption could already make 4G available.