Published Date: Apr 16, 2014
Auction for 3G/4G Demand already greater than available spectrum: PTA chief
The non-participation of new international telecom entrants would have
no negative impact on the 3G/4G spectrum auction as the demand is
already greater than the available spectrum, said Dr Syed Ismail Shah,
Chairman, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
"The Authority has received expressions of interest for 3G/4G
spectrum auction which would be held on April 23," said PTA Chairman
while addressing the 58th meeting of SDPI’s Study Group on Information
Technology and Telecommunications "After 3/4G Spectrum Auctions – What
Next?" here on Tuesday. PTA Chairman further said that no new telecom
operator submitted bids for participating in the auction; however it
would not affect the auction process.
While there is a need for a comprehensive policy in this area,
there is no harm in advancement of technology, said Shah, adding that
PTA is in the process of coming up with a plan for the telecom sector,
in consultation with all the stakeholders, including industry’s
representatives. The participants of the meeting agreed that in a bid to
make full use of dramatically faster and widely available mobile
broadband internet benefits through 3G/4G auctions, the government needs
to immediately start working on a plan to maximise the benefits of
broadband internet across the socio-economic divide.
While chairing the proceedings of the session, Dr Ijaz Shafi
Gillani, Chairman, Gallup Pakistan, highlighted that such platforms are
important in bringing together experts from various fields and
deliberate over matters of public interest. He added that Pakistan was
able to access internet prior to other countries in the region.
Dr Aamir Matin, an IT industry professional, drew a comparison
between the motorway and the information highway, explaining that the
long-term benefits of motorways include reducing pressure on the large
cities by opening up industrial zones and employment opportunities in
newer/smaller towns along the motorways. Reducing the time required for
agricultural produce to reach markets is another important factor.
However, in the case of Pakistan, the long-term benefits of the
Islamabad-Lahore Motorway are still to be fully realised due to a lack
of a comprehensive plan. On a similar note, with examples, he explained
the benefits of e-Services that could accrue from a faster internet,
once the 3G/4G networks are rolled-out. But the full potential will
remain unutilised unless a proper plan is prepared and implemented.
Parvez Iftikhar, an international consultant on ICT and former
CEO Universal Service Fund, laid out a strategy to implement a broadband
plan that would allow e-services in the areas of education, governance,
health, agriculture/livestock, etc to be delivered at citizens’
doorstep. He explained that these are much bigger tasks than the mere
provision of broadband, as the governments themselves will have to
become the biggest users of broadband, which will mean a gradual
re-engineering of governments’ own processes as well. He suggested that
apart from the Universal Services Fund and ICT R&D Fund, national
and provincial government budgets need to be used for funding, in
addition to investments from the private sector.
The meeting recommended that following a comprehensive plan, a
broadband eco-system needs to be built, which includes development of
relevant content in regional languages, rolling out e-Services, raising
awareness among citizens through targeted promotions, capacity-building
of public officials and general public towards ICT, and adoption of
ICT-enabled services through shared access points. It was further
suggested that the Ministry of Information Technology needs to take a
lead in co-ordinating the national broadband plan, taking along the
provincial governments and relevant federal ministries.