At last, Pakistan moves to next generation cellular technology

*Nawaz awards 3G, 4G mobile spectrum licences to successful mobile operating companies * Says dream of tangible progress not possible without latest technology

ISLAMABAD: In what is being seen as one of the most important events in Pakistan’s history, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday awarded 3G and 4G mobile spectrum licences to the mobile operating companies that participated in their auction, to inaugurate the formal launch of the two advanced cellular technologies. 
Speaking on the occasion, a visible happy prime minister said true development in the country was only possible through modern technology. Nawaz Sharif, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said that the government was trying to tackle challenges on various fronts and that the country would be left in a stable, energised and developing state at the end of his government’s tenure after four years.
He told the attendees of the function that only after the acquisition of modern technology could the country realise the dream of tangible development. He also briefed them about the policies adopted to increase foreign investment in the country and to tackle the energy crises. Prime Minister Nawaz said it was part of his government’s initiative to provide quality telecommunication services and bridge the rural and urban digital divide. He invited all sectors of society to benefit from this latest technology and play their part in the development of the country, specifically urging the youth to use the service for research, education and progress.
He said the new technology would not only bring an additional Rs 260 billion to the national kitty, but also create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Prime Minister Nawaz said it is important that the reach of the broadband be extended, and the service be made affordable, however, he stressed the need to have a set of guidelines for provision of quality services while providing level playing field for all stake holders.
The prime minister said the day coincides with the World Telecom and Information Society Day. He said that the theme “Broadband for Sustainable Development” is similar to the vision of his government. He stated that in his earlier tenure, during the 1990s, the optical fibre cable network was installed for cellular communication. The prime minister also spoke about the measures taken by his government to manage the shattered economy, noting the initiation of new development projects. He added that it is because of the efforts of his government that the confidence of the local traders and foreign investors has been restored. 
He said that his government is working for eradicating corruption and will continue the fight against terrorism. Citing the energy projects for curbing power shortfall he said that work is going on the 2,200MW power plant in Karachi, 10 coal-fired power plants in Gaddani, 1,320MW plant at Port Qasim and a 1,320MW plant at Jamshoro. He commended record-time completion of 450MW Nandipur power plant. Prime Minister Nawaz said that the long-term power projects include Diamir-Bhasha, Dasu and Bunji dams. He said that his government has authorised Rs 160 billion for development projects in Gwadar, which includes a Khunjerab to Gwadar highway. 
The PM noted that the foreign exchange reserves are increasing. He said that the pace of progress in the industrial sector has increased by 5.2%. Furthermore, the inflation has been restrained to a single digit, he added. The Karachi Stock Exchange index touched the 28,344 points and the Pakistani rupee parity with the US dollar remained stable, he said. The prime minister congratulated Mobilink, Telenor, Ufone and Zong for having won the 3G and 4G licences in the bidding. The PM further appreciated the Ministry of Information Technology for fair and transparent bidding. He specially lauded the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman for their “hard work.” Senior telecom officials were also present during the occasion.
Following the auction for the 3G and 4G spectrums by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on April 23, four bidders including Zong, Ufone, Telenor and Mobilink were declared as successful. The government raised $902.82 million in auction for 3G networks and $210 million for the 4G spectrum. The winning operators started free trial of 3G spectrum for mobile users. However, the users who wanted to enjoy 3G services will have to pay for it from today and will have to subscribe to a bucket. Pakistan has more than 132 million mobile phone subscribers and has now provided the more advanced mobile communication technology to its users. The award of these licences will provide Rs 260 billion additional revenue to the exchequer. 

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