WLL: BEGINNING OF AN END TO DIGITAL DIVIDE

Deregulation of telecom sector is being seen as beginning of revolutionization of the telecom industry

By Engineer Abdul Waheed Khawaja
Feb 14 - 20, 2005

As per the research data compiled by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), presently the phone coverage in Pakistan is 30 percent and with the completion of Wireless Local Loop (WLL) telephony inauguration, it would be increased up to 100 percent. The Federal Minister for IT&T is quoted as saying, on the launching ceremony of WLL at Sukkur, that 50,000 urban and rural areas have been included in the national network, with the launching of WLL. "So far 20,000 villages had been provided with WLL service and within a very short span of time, the facility would be provided to 50,000 urban and rural areas.

Deregulation of telecom sector is being seen as beginning of revolutionization of the telecom industry in Pakistan. The architects of this concept and the implementing forces consider this step as bold and fruit bearing. They perceived, happening of miracles at the end of the day. In line with the international concepts and emerging trends, Pakistan opted for the opening-up of her economy for international investors. Pakistan committed at the WTO forum in 1997 to open up its basic telecom services to private sector in 2002. In pursuance of this strategy, deregulation process of telecom sector was stated in early 2003, and its first phase stands successfully completed with the end of licenses issuance process. Today, all telecom services are liberalized and all entry barriers and restrictions are lifted.

Keeping in view the importance of WLL technology in developing economies and the growth of WLL subscribers all across the world, we have also decided to promote this technology and thus PTA offered WLL licenses. As spectrum is a scarce source, so the Regulator tried her level best to accommodate maximum number of players in the available resource.

S.NO

NAME OF THE SPECTRUM WINNERS

REGIONS

1

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd

14

2

Telecard Ltd

14

3

Dv Com Ltd

14

4

WorldCall Telephony (Pvt) Ltd

14

5

Burraq Telecom Ltd

14

6

Warid WLL (Pvt) Ltd

13

7

Microtech Links (Pvt) Ltd

05

8

Great Bear International Services (Pvt) Ltd

05

9

Cyber Internet Services (Pvt) Ltd

03

10

Zarco Telecommunication (Pvt) Ltd

02

11

Sachal Sotec (Pvt) Ltd

01

12

Sachal Satellite Communication (Pvt) Ltd

01

13

Sachal Technologies Inc (Pvt) Ltd

01

14

Sachal Technical Services (Pvt) Ltd

01

15

Poleax Telecom (Pvt) Ltd

01

16

United Cable Network (Pvt) Ltd

01

17

Reliance Telecom (Pvt) Ltd

01

18

Ertibatat (Pvt) Ltd

01

19

Metrotel (Pvt) Ltd

01

20

Defence Housing Authority

01

Seventy-two companies have applied for local loop licenses in 14 telecom regions. Thirty-nine companies opted for fixed local loop license and thirty-three companies desired WLL spectrum. Out of these thirty-three, twenty-nine companies were cleared for participation in spectrum bidding.

Twenty companies have won the spectrum and in all 108 WLL licenses in fourteen regions will be awarded to the successful bidders upon completion of formalities and deposit of auction winning prices. Total revenue generated from the spectrum bidding is expected to be Rs13816.785 million. This money would also become a source of development for down-trodden people in Pakistan.

FINANCIAL DETAILS OF WLL

S. #

REGIONS

1.9 GHz

450 MHz

479 MHz

3.5 MHz

Total

(in Millions Rs.)

1

Karachi (KTR)

3612.00

264.00

31.00

259.00

4166.00

2

Faisalabad (FTR)

1275.00

201.00

3.00

28.00

1507.00

3

Lahore (LTR)

1059.00

168.00

5.00

77.00

1309.00

4

Gujranwala (GTR)

885.00

240.00

25.00

4.06

1154.06

5

Multan (MTR)

858.00

210.00

20.00

3.48

1091.48

6

Islamabad (ITR)

870.00

66.00

7.00

49.00

992.00

7

Northern (NTR-I)

606.00

183.00

20.00

28.00

837.00

8

Rawalpindi (RTR)

597.00

192.00

17.00

4.06

810.06

9

Southern (STR-I)

402.00

117.00

8.00

4.06

431.06

10

Central (CTR)

363.00

108.00

1.31

2.32

474.63

11

Western (WTR)

225.00

111.00

10.00

3.48

349.48

12

Southern (STR-V)

237.00

96.00

11.00

4.06

348.06

13

Northern (NTR-II)

166.00

75.00

7.00

3.48

251.48

14

Haripur (HTR)

101.00

120.00

10.00

3.48

234.48

 

Total

11256.00

2151.00

175.31

473.48

14055.79

The launching of WLL in Pakistan telecom sector is almost like bringing a revolution in the industry and new technology is likely to raise the level of teledensity to an un-imaginable level in Pakistan. The Wireless Loop service is a new telephone technology, which enables provision of service without telephone lines over a 25 kilometers radius from the telephone exchange. The WLL is an emerging access network technology based on Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) principle. Cellular mobiles are based on Group Special Mobile (GSM) technology. Both technologies are developed for the convenience of users.

It may not be taken as the clash of titans. But the WLL might has sway over the cellular mobiles, as found in our neighboring India during the recent past. The mobile companies have again started coming come out with more attractive packages for the subscribers to stay in contention. It is a healthy sign for the overall growth of the industry as well as for the end user of the service.

As some companies have already launched the WLL services in the villages, the results have started coming out in the form of a healthy competition among themselves. New companies have started aggressively procuring technical and non-technical staff. It has generated a healthy competition in the job market. The launching of the WLL service would bring a new revolution in the telecom sector and would also fetch huge investment.

The biggest advantage of WLL is that there are no airtime charges. All incoming calls are free of charge. All outgoing calls will be charged at lowest, which is the same as a landline call. The Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), which supports WLL, is a cellular technology and as the licensees are prepared to provide the subscribers loop connectivity through WLL-CDMA system they would offer a limited mobility to the subscribers which means, the subscribers will enjoy mobility in their respective geographic areas.

The highest bidder state-owned telecom, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) will provide 2.1 million new Wireless Local Loop telephone connections in far-flung and rural areas of the country. The technology of this wireless system is the same as being used in cell phones worldwide. The only difference is that its range has been restricted to 20 kilometers from the telephone exchange of its origin.

The completion of the provisioning of WLL facility would take the phone coverage, presently 30 in Pakistan to the level of 100 percent. Availability of land line telephony, WLL, LDI and LL services to a large chunk of rural & urban population in Pakistan would not only ignite the economic activity but also boost the ongoing productive activities in industrial and agriculture sector. Marketing of agriculture-produce by the farmers themselves would become a reality. Role of middleman would be reduced and farmers would be in a position to get the fair price of their produce. Availability of the modern communication at affordable rates would enhance the knowledge of the farmers about market mechanism and prevailing situation. Middleman and market manipulators would not remain in a position to exploit the ignorance of the farmers.

Until December 31, 2003 all-voice traffic was a monopoly in Pakistan dominated by Pakistan Telecom Company (PTCL). Deregulation has not only provided for entry of new players into the market, but is driving entrance of new technologies, higher service levels and lower prices for consumers throughout the country.