Zong recently tested 5G internet in Pakistan, and despite large-budget advertisements, much hype, and expectations, it appears that Pakistanis will have to wait until at least 2023 to use 5G internet. According to a Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) official who testified before the Senate’s Standing Committee on Information Technology and Communication.
Before the official opening, the authority will complete several phases, including the issuance of a growth strategy, the recruitment of an advisor for the sale process, the finalization of policy directives by the end of 2022, and the finalization of incentives in the upcoming finance bill. The Ministry of IT and Telecommunication (MoIT&T) has rolled out its preliminary plan for launching 5G technology in Pakistan in a report of the “5G Strategic Plan and Policy Guideline.”
In his briefing to the committee, Dr. Khawar Siddique Khokhar, a member of the PTA, stated that Pakistan does not have the infrastructure to launch 5G in the near future. He also stated that infrastructure development takes time and that Pakistan will not be able to launch 5G before 2023.
Following feedback and consultation with market participants as well as various ministries and authorities, the ministry updated its plans. The spectrum assignment will remain technology-neutral. The Ministry of Information, Technology, and Telecommunications (MoIT&T) may revise its Right of Way policy to facilitate telecom network deployment.
After receiving recommendations/consultation from PTA, PEMRA, and FAB, the MoIT&T will finalize the Spectrum Re-farming Framework for IMT bands. In accordance with Telecom Policy 2015, the process of spectrum reframing will be carried out through a policy directive and a Spectrum Reframing Committee comprised of MoIT, FAB, PTA/PEMRA, and incumbent users. According to the draft, all relevant stakeholders, including MoIT&T, MoF, PTA, and FAB, will work together to conduct the spectrum auction in 2023.
PTA officials informed the committee that they do not currently have a 5G strategy and requested two months to develop one. Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Secretary Ministry of Information Technology and Communication, told the committee that his ministry has begun work on a cybersecurity policy, which will be presented to the committee soon.
It should be noted, however, that PTA has issued a notice to Zong for misleading consumers by falsely claiming to be Pakistan’s first 5G network when, in fact, PTA has only granted telecom companies permission to test the facility and not launch it.