Schools, including offices, were closed last year due to the lockdown, and the school administration announced that classes would now be online to continue the children’s education. What happened next was like a crisis at home. All the gadgets i.e. mobile phones, laptops and tablets were snatched away from the adults and temporary classrooms were started in them.
Now that our Begum used to teach at school, she also grabbed a tablet for her classes. One child took a mobile phone while the other took a laptop. As far as we are concerned, we felt that we were back in the pre-mobile phone and computer era.
But the disappearance of these gadgets was just the beginning of the problem that the biggest problem became the uninterrupted supply of the Internet. The children’s class had just started and the internet was down. There was no proper internet service on the mobile phone nor was there a proper signal on the cloud device.
The Internet often stopped working, affecting children’s classes. Sometimes the internet would be shut down at the very time when attendance was taking place and due to the malfunction of the internet the teachers would make the children absent or the children would have to listen to scolds for not attending the class.
Due to the poor performance of the internet, the children could not even hear the voice of the teacher properly, which often led to the question of whether to answer the question.
When we asked a friend working in a mobile phone company about this problem, it seemed that the use of mobile and cloud-based internet has suddenly increased in the country. But the problem is that spectrum is not available to provide internet on mobile phones.
“Dude, where did this spectrum come from?” I asked anxiously.
The friend patiently replied, “Spectrum is an invisible radio frequency that is allocated to every mobile phone company.” This is where mobile phone signals circulate. As you know, it is because of these signals that we are able to make calls from our mobile phones. The frequencies we call are a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
“Now the electromagnetic spectrum has different bands and each band has a different wavelength. Mobile phone signals reach us by traveling on the same wavelengths or broadcast waves, whether they are voice calls or the Internet.
But the problem is that a new spectrum has not been provided to mobile phone companies in Pakistan since 2017. On the other hand, the number of mobile phone and cloud internet users has increased significantly. As a result, mobile phone companies face a shortage of broadcast waves, also known as spectrum shortages.
The growing pressure on the mobile phone spectrum in Pakistan can be gauged from the data transmitted over the spectrum. Spectrum data, which was 1207 petabytes in 2018, has increased to 4498 petabytes in 2020. Thus, the data transmitted over the spectrum has increased significantly by 272%. This spectacular increase in data is causing traffic jams on the Spectrum Highway. Due to lack of spectrum, Pakistan ranks 111th out of 140 countries in terms of internet speed on mobile phones.
We hung up, saying, “Brother, I need standard internet service, and you’re behind the spectrum.
But just a few days ago, the government released a draft policy stating that internet use has increased dramatically since the outbreak of the Corona epidemic. Mobile internet has been used the most during this time, so there is a need to improve the spectrum.
In this article, we will try to review the current situation of spectrum available for mobile phones in Pakistan, the sale of new spectrum by the government and the policy objections from the mobile phone industry.
Given Pakistan’s poor ranking in the recently released Comprehensive Internet Index released by the Economic Intelligence Unit, the telecom industry has sought immediate policy intervention. One-third of the spectrum is currently in use in the country. The index shows that Pakistan’s overall ranking is 90, which was 89 in 2020 and 77 in 2019. It is noteworthy that the main reason for the low rating is the lack of spectrum for cellular mobile service providers.
The GSMA, a representative body of the mobile phone industry around the world, in its 2020 report also included Pakistan among the countries that did not provide adequate spectrum to the telecom industry as per the demand. According to the report, Nepal and Pakistan are the two countries in the South Asian region with the lowest spectrum for mobile phone services.
The GSMA report has four main aspects in the ranking of any country. This includes availability, cheaper services, competition and readiness.
Pakistan’s 35 million population and 50% of the area is deprived of telecom facilities, and where these facilities are available, the situation is very bad. The gap between the country’s population in terms of digital distribution or the availability of the Internet is huge. If this is not addressed properly, socio-economic disparities will increase and urgent decisions and actions at the policy level will be required.
The GSMA report says that if the spectrum is provided to mobile phone companies in Pakistan, it will help the telecom industry to flourish and increase the use of broadband internet in the country. May increase
A draft policy submitted by the Ministry of Information Technology has been approved by the Cabinet. Under this policy, the procedure for selling ‘Next Generation Spectrum’ for mobile phone services has been clarified. The government has approved the policy on the recommendations of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) and the Frequency Allocation Board.
The government wants to auction 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands under the Telecommunications Act 1996. In this regard, PTA has been directed to auction 12.8 MHz spectrum in 1800 MHz band and 15 MHz spectrum in 2100 MHz band. In this regard, PTA has to issue an information memo that has not been issued yet.
The document further states that a pair of 1800 MHz will cost US 3 31 million while a pair of 2100 MHz will cost US 2 29 million. The document also recommends that each company acquire at least 5 MHz of spectrum.
Companies will have to immediately bid 50 percent of the auctioned spectrum while the rest will have to be paid in installments over 5 years. The remaining amount will have to pay 3% interest at the rate offered by the London Interbank Bank (LIBOR). The spectrum will be allotted to the successful bidder for 15 years. The government wants to raise ارب 1 billion from the sale of spectrum.
The PTA has sought cabinet approval for a policy on the mobile phone spectrum, but objections have been raised by telecom companies.
Mobile phone companies say the government, the Ministry of Information and Technology and the PTA should provide spectrum at a lower cost at the outset, rather than just a lump sum surcharge from telecom companies. Make the government share in the revenue.
On the issue of the spectrum, Rakim contacted the four mobile phone companies. One company said it would not comment until the government made a final announcement on the sale of spectrum. The rest is the same as what Jazz chief executive Amir Ibrahim is saying.
Amir Ibrahim says that the use of the internet has increased a lot due to the coronavirus. The Internet and smartphones have become a necessity instead of a luxury. People’s daily lives and businesses depend on these tools and services. Like the rest of the world, the role of the telecom sector in the Pakistani economy has increased. If it is not developed, Pakistan will lag behind the world in economic development and will not be able to keep pace with the world.
The Universal Service Fund was set up to expand telecom services in the country. Telecom companies continue to add a large portion of their profits. “Despite the fact that telecom companies continue to pay their dues in accordance with the law, the funds have not been utilized in a timely manner,” he said. According to the USF policy formulated in 2005, the target was to provide telecommunication services to 85% of the population in 2010 and 95% in 2015. But by 2021, only 85% of the population will have access to mobile phone services. Mobile phone and internet services are still not available in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and parts of the former FATA and Balochistan.
Aamir Ibrahim says that the use of spectrum in Pakistan is very low and only one-third of the spectrum has been used. Due to this, Pakistan’s mobile phone industry remains the lowest spectrum user in the world. Due to lack of spectrum, telecom companies have to install more mobile phone towers and substandard services are available to consumers.
“Unless the spectrum is used, it is of no use economically,” adds Jazz’s chief executive. Improving mobile phone internet services in Pakistan should be the first priority. For this, spectrum should be provided to mobile phone companies at a reasonable price so that they can invest in infrastructure. Telecom companies should get financial relief for investing in broadband services in the country