ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has sought two-month time for submitting a complete plan for launching the 5G telecom technology in the country.
In a briefing to the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology on Monday, PTA member Dr Khawar Siddique Khokhar said the commercial launch of 5G in the country would take four to five years. The parliamentary panel was informed that the 5G policy was formulated in 2017 and the PTA had established and issued a 5G framework for conducting the trial in June this year.
All network operators have been making arrangements to conduct 5G tests since October 2017. In this regard, Telenor submitted an application on July 23 whereas Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) submitted a request on August 8. Mobilink and Special Communications Organisation (SCO) also submitted applications for starting the trial.
He informed the Senate body that Zong had also approached the PTA, seeking permission to conduct 5G trial and permission was granted.
CM Pak Limited had conducted a site test and it was not a network test. Khokhar said as the 5G technology had not been commercially introduced, Zong was not authorised to do so either.
The official pointed out that there were several challenges regarding the availability of spectrums and the issues were yet to be resolved. He said the impact of 5G on human health, right of ways, applications, security, and infrastructure was yet to be reviewed and expressed hope that the technology would be available by 2021. The IT secretary directed the PTA to take Senator Attique Shaikh onboard pertaining to the spectrum cost of 5G.
Senator Shahzad Waseem said there should be a level playing field for all the stakeholders and equal opportunities should be given to all operators. Senator Shaikh suggested that 5G trial should be conducted but the PTA member said 5G trial or operation was not within the mandate of the authority.
A spokesperson for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) also briefed the Senate body over the use of information technology, saying that a mobile management system would be introduced for weather forecasting.
He said 3G and 4G technology would be used to collect data for flood and earthquake forecasting, adding that the NDMA was working on the data and a digital model had been prepared in that regard.
The official added that a summary had been moved to the federal government to form the National Disaster Response Force, which would take immediate initiatives in response to any disaster-like situation. The committee also agreed on amendments to the law regarding NDMA. Senator Rubina Khalid said Russia had a good cybersecurity system and Pakistan should take advantage of that, adding Russia was also taking interest and Pakistan should adopt the Russian model.
The IT secretary said a draft of the cyber security policy had been finalised and October 20 was the deadline for finalising the policy.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2019.