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ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday launched "Rolling Spectrum Strategy 2020-2023", which will become basis for the 5G technology in the country. Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque launched the strategy at a ceremony, which was also attended by Federal Secretary Ministry of IT and Telecommunication Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui, Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Maj Gen Amir Azeem Bajwa (retired), and executive director Frequency Allocation Board (FAB), were also present on the occasion.

Addressing the ceremony, Haque said it was a major achievement of the Ministry of IT and Telecommunication that it had finalised Rolling Spectrum Strategy in consultation with all the stakeholders.

"Efforts of the Ministry of IT, the PTA, and the FAB are laudable," he added.

He said the present government, in line with its vision of "Digital Pakistan", gave highest priority to the telecommunications sector's issues, particularly spectrum. The federal minister for IT said that the Rolling Spectrum Strategy would be helpful for telecom companies in formulating their business plans.

The Rolling Spectrum Strategy will be also become basis for the 5G technology in the country, he said. He said that steps were being taken for the promotion of IT and telecom sector in the country. He said that transparency was vital in the auction of spectrum.

Syed Aminul Haque said that provision of broadband services in the country was the topmost priority of the Ministry of IT. The Rolling Spectrum Strategy provides a future roadmap for spectrum allocation as well as spectrum-related policy reviews that are anticipated to take place between 2020 and 2023.

The publication of the spectrum roadmap will help commercial operators with their network planning investments. The strategy report discusses global trends around wireless communications, the challenges faced by spectrum managers, and spectrum management needs to cope with these trends.

It stresses the requirement for spectrum sharing and trading and adoption of spectrum pricing - Administrative Incentive Pricing (AIP) to promote efficient utilisation of frequency spectrum. The strategy discusses current utilisation and future frequency spectrum outlook for mobile broadband services, broadcast services, fixed services, aeronautical and maritime services, public safety and land communication systems, satellite services and unlicensed bands for short range devices.

It recommended not to put in place a fixed spectrum cap defined in MHz but operator with a higher than 35 percent/40 percent of all mobile spectrum be barred from an impending auction. The Rolling Spectrum Strategy 2020-2023 recommended for the PTA/FAB not to put in place a fixed spectrum cap defined in MHz.

The PTA/FAB can consider using a percentage share of overall mobile spectrum as a guide to decide, if further evaluation needs to be performed. The strategy revealed that there is a high chance that devices will hit critical mass before 2020, and recommended that the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication/PTA/FAB aim to allocate the band for auction. This band is also crucial for Pakistan operators to extend the coverage to rural areas since it has better propagation characteristics.

The report revealed that the PTA/FAB was considering implementing an AIP-base spectrum pricing framework to replace the current ASAF. As part of the spectrum pricing review, the PTA/FAB has already submitted the revised ACR fee levels for principle approval by the government of Pakistan for implementation. It will be applied to services where auctions and the AIP are not implemented.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020