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ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to constitute 13-member broad-based International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT)/5G Technology Advisory Committee, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

According to the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, quality broadband connectivity is critical for increasing IT exports, generating new business and employment opportunities and realizing the ‘Digital Pakistan Vision’. Efficient utilization of frequency spectrum for mobile broadband services is fundamental to enable quality broadband connectivity.

Ministry of IT & Telecommunication constituted a 5G Pakistan Plan (5GPP) Committee to define a roadmap and finalize policy recommendations for 5G readiness in Pakistan, in consultation with the stakeholders to formulate the 5G strategic plan that was produced.

A 5G Readiness Study was also undertaken with stakeholders’ consultation and technical assistance from the World Bank (both documents are available on Ministry of IT & Telecommunication website).

Currently, 173 operators have launched 5G services across 69 countries. Bangladesh has recently allocated 60 MHz to one operator for launching 5G services on trial basis. And India has announced launch of 5G services in 13 cities during 2022 after approving major policy reforms for the telecom sector.

Moreover, the onset of Covid-19 pandemic and increased digital activity has led to the requirement of more International Mobile Telecommunications spectrum so that the telecom operators can expand their current networks, improve the quality of broadband and are enabled to introduce 5G technology in the country.

The country’s use of spectrum for commercial IMT services in 700 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2600 MHz and 3500 MHz bands is significantly low as per global best practices. All previous exercises for the release of IMT/NGMS (Next Generation Mobile Services) spectrum have been conducted through an auction under the oversight of an Advisory Committee constituted by the Prime Minister/Federal Government.

Hence, it is proposed that an Advisory Committee for the release of IMT/5G spectrum may be constituted with the following composition and Terms of Reference (ToRs): (I) Federal Minister - Finance & Revenue (Chairman); (ii) Federal Minister Information Technology & Telecommunication; (iii) Federal Minister Science& Technology;(iv) Federal Minister - Industries & Production;(v) Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce & Investment;(vi) Secretary, Finance Division;(vii) Secretary, IT & Telecom Division; (viii) Secretary, Law & Justice Division;(ix) Chairman, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA);(x) Executive Director, Frequency Allocation Board (FAB);(xi) representative of GHQ;(xii) Director General (Tech) – ISI; (xiii) Member Telecom, MoIT&T (Committee Secretary); and (xiv) any other member that the Committee may wish to co-opt.

Terms of Reference (ToRs) are: (i) to review the total IMT spectrum utilization vs available and used spectrum in Pakistan vis-a-vis global spectrum utilization and submit a clear way forward and plan for optimum use of this scarce valuable resource; (ii) review and approve the 5G Strategic Plan to enable timely launch of 5GGservices in the country in consultation with all stakeholders including the telecom operators; (iii) to examine and finalize the telecom reforms and incentives to promote IMT/5G technology ecosystem adoption and ensure that those are reflected in Finance Bill 2022-23; (iv) to review the market assessment report and approve the way forward based on the recommendations of the reputed consultant hired by PTA for the auction design/details of an investment friendly IMT/5G spectrum release to maximize the spectrum utilization in line with the Digital Pakistan vision; and (v) to approve the policy directives for the Federal Government for release of IMT/5G spectrum in Pakistan and; (vi) to oversee the spectrum auction/release process to be conducted by PTA.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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