ISLAMABAD: A 'licence issuance ceremony' is on the cards, scheduled for Saturday (World Telecom Day), to celebrate what the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) describes as "the successful auction of 3G and 4G spectrums".
Well-placed sources in the Telecommunication Ministry told Daily Times that the PTA might issue licences of 3G and 4G spectrums on the World Telecom Day, falling on May 17, to the auction-winning cellular mobile operators (CMOs). They also told that a request had been made to the Prime Minister's Secretariat that Nawaz Sharif chairs the ceremony himself, which may took place at PM's Secretariat. So far, two of the four auction-winning mobile operators (Ufone and Telenor) have submitted their dues (licence fee) while the rest of the CMOs (Zong and Mobilink) are expected to submit their dues before May 15.
The convergence of Internet and mobile telephony has created a rich brew of content and services that benefits more people, in more places than ever before. Mobile users in Pakistan prior to the availability of 3G/4G services remained deprive of the benefits of the Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) that were already deployed in various part of the world.
Background interviews and discussions with telecom experts disclosed that 2,100MHz and 1,800MHz bands would allow telecom operators to deploy both 3G and 4G networks and offer the most advanced mobile services to their customers. Terming the holding of spectrums' auction a landmark event in the history of Pakistan's telecom sector, they said the NGMS would make mobile broadband services available to mobile users in the rural and urban areas of the country. It would also bring individuals, information and mobile broadband services closer quickly and conveniently.
"The NGMS will be an enabler towards GDP growth, [which will] introduce more innovative e-services, such as e-medicine and e-education, besides ensuring availability of high-speed mobile broadband services in both urban and rural areas that will encourage a more connected community and promote e-commerce-related activities," an expert said.
He said that a network's capability is measured by its data download speed, but speed cannot be measured exactly. Download speed will depend on variables including the technology used by the broadband network developer, the mobile device's location and the number of people simultaneously using the network.
"Because of these variables, it is best to examine the approximate 3G and 4G download speeds of the main network developers," one of the experts said.
Giving ups and downs of 3G and 4G LTE, Nayatel CEO Wahajus Siraj said the main job of 3G phone service is to send and receive data and connect to the Internet at the highest possible speed and in the most secured way.
"The 3G phone service is also used by cell phone users to make phone calls, and its standards require at least 2 Mbit/second data rates for stationary users and 384 KB/second for users in a moving vehicle. The standards also provide for enhanced security, using stronger encryption of calls and data."
Mobile data technologies like 3G and the newer 4G are families of mobile-communication standards that are determined by the International Telecommunications Union, or ITU. He also said that the main selling point of 3G phone service is that a user is always connected to it, regardless of his or her location, while the 3G phone service uses cell phone signals and cell towers to provide users with access to the Internet. The 3G network also supports end-to-end security, which means that both the devices sending and receiving the information are secured.
"The main disadvantage of the 3G phone service is its cost. Data transmission rates for users of 3G phone service are incredibly high. Unless you have an unlimited plan from your carrier, you are charged per kilobyte of data you send or receive. If you take your 3G phone to another country, you are charged on a completely different (and dramatically more expensive) pay scale due to using international phone towers," said a senior official of the Telecom Ministry, who requested not to be named. He added that features of 3G products and networks are enhanced data transmission capabilities. 3G devices will eventually be replaced as newer technologies become ready for mainstream use. The next generation of mobile communications is slated to be 4G which further enhances the inherent abilities of 3G.
Talking about the Fourth Generation of mobile technology, or 4G, an official at PTA said 4G is still in its early stages as of 2010, but it intends to provide for a much more secure IP-switched network, meaning using Internet protocol to connect users. 4G systems aim to offer 100 Mbit/second data rates for highly mobile users and up to 1 Gbit/second for stationary users. 4G networks will be able to deliver unprecedented levels of media and gaming capabilities, which are impossible on 3G networks due to the intense communication necessary.
About, LTE (long term evolution) , he said it is a 4G standard compliant technology that began wide deployment in 2010. Many worldwide carriers, including Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T in the United States, are transitioning to LTE. LTE is being considered by the ITU as the standard 4G radio technology because the LTE project aims to surpass the ITU specifications. Even early LTE implementations offer 100 Mbit/second download speeds and 50 Mbit/second upload speeds.
It is also learnt that LTE is a 4G wireless communications standard developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) that's designed to provide up to 10x the speeds of 3G networks for mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, netbooks, notebooks and wireless hotspots. 4G technologies are designed to provide IP-based voice, data and multimedia streaming at speeds of at least 100 Mbit per second and up to as fast as 1 Gbit per second
4G LTE is one of several competing 4G standards along with Ultra Mobile Broadband (UMB) and WiMax (IEEE 802.16). The leading cellular providers have started to deploy 4G technologies, with Verizon and AT&T launching 4G LTE networks and Sprint utilizing its new 4G WiMax network. In terms of mobile devices, many newer Android-based smartphones are 4G LTE capable, and both the iPhone 5 and the iPad 3 are expected to have built-in 4G LTE capabilities when released in the second half of 2012.
It is worth mentioning that internet-based technologies born out of both necessity and innovation. Once people got stuck on roads due to bad weather, accidents and road works, now they will be able to track their journeys and delays with their smartphones applications that can assist us with road-conditions, maps and much more in real time
Doctors and hospitals will be able to make better use of faster Internet through the transmission of scans and reports, especially when transporting patients. For a country dependent on sporadic and insufficient electricity, wireless connections give them a chance to work, connect, learn and play.
According to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) figures as of March 2014, the percentage of Annual Cellular Mobile Teledensity in Pakistan is 74.9 percent. But according to a Pew Research study, the figure is somewhat different. It states that 53 percent of Pakistanis own cell phones, and out of these 3 percent own smartphones. This is a dismal figure, given the opportunities people with this facility can avail.
Given that emerging start-ups in Pakistan, especially those developing new apps, need public interest and support to grow, this small percentage of smartphone users poses a problem.
The provision of 3G and 4G LTE services will create the opportunity for the public to connect with these budding entrepreneurs in what can be a mutually beneficial relationship, where entrepreneurs come up with ideas that solve existing problems in our society, and the public responds by adopting these and increasing their business potential.
However, the scope of this process is likely to remain limited unless more people get involved in using these services. At present, large numbers of countries with 4G LTE penetration are South Korea, Japan, Australia, United States, Sweden, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, etc.
There are many economic benefits accruing solely to the introduction of 3G services in Pakistan including the development of infrastructure, the increased connectivity, the increase in job creation and many other benefits factor into the increase in GDP that will result for the country.
So far, Warid Telecom of Pakistan has shown its willingness for going 4G LTE, to possibly become the first operator in the market to deploy 4G LTE network in the country despite the fact that Warid Telecom has not participated in recently held 3G / 4G auction. But, Warid has decided to go 4G LTE with its available spectrum that it had bought in 2004. While, 4G licence auction winner Zong has declared that it would take several months for launching 4G services in Pakistan.
"Zong, that has won 4G licence in Pakistan, can take around a year or so in launching 4G network in Pakistan," said Dr. Fan Yunjun, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Zong, during its press conference on 3G and 4G.
Besides, after winning the spectrum auction, Mobilink, Telenor, Ufone and Zong are now waiting for the licence and NOC from government of Pakistan to commercially launch services in the country.
It merits mentioning here that Ufone and Telenor have already started trial 3G services in at least four major cities of Pakistan.
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