3G TO BRING A NEW LIFE TO THE TELECOM

KANWAL SALEEM
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Nov 22 - 28, 20
10

The telecom technology is undergoing tremendous developments-from better to best and from best to infinity. After the advent of 2G, 3G and 4G, LT is now the latest technology, which is the state-of-the art telephony. Pakistani telecom industry, though made much progress, is much behind from India, which is now the first nation to have 3G launch.

In the age of technology, the telecom sector predominantly acts as cataclysm in people's lifestyles. The telecom technology has its own weird but real magic, a variegated activity on the planet earth, its core and of course the outer space.

Despite manifold challenges posed to the economy in Pakistan, the telecom sector received US$1.438 billion in year 2008 and US$ 815 million in the following year 2009 as foreign direct investment in different projects in the ministry of information technology and its attached departments.

The total internet users of the country rose to 19 million with total broadband users rising to 413,809 million. Total direct and indirect jobs in the telecom sector are 1.36 million. During the past two years, the total phone lines increased from 94.695 million to 103.801 million with mobile lines increasing from 88.019 million to 97.58 million, almost 59.6 percent upward slide, while the fixed lines declined from 4.416 million to 3.526 million, almost 2.2 percent downward slide.

In telecom sector, Rs63.187 were allocated in budget 2010-11 for an ongoing project of Inter-Connect Billing & Customer Support System for SCOs while Rs74.975 million were earmarked for National ICT Scholarship Programme. Another Rs51.191 have been budgeted for GSM Expansion of Gilgit-Baltistan while Rs17.049 million have been earmarked for Gilgit-Baltistan Terrestrial Link.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Pakistan Network Information Centre (PKNIC) had launched a joint initiative under which later would offer 5000 free domains to the developers of local content websites in Urdu or any other local language.

According to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Chairman, Dr. Muhammad Yaseen, this support has been offered in view of the importance linked with availability of local contents and applications for the outlook of information communication technology (ICT) sector of Pakistan. This program will encourage and contribute towards enhancement of local contents followed by applications, as this initiative is the first of its kind in the world.

It may be noted that the government had allocated an amount of Rs718.317 million for ongoing and new schemes for information technology & telecom sector under public sector development programme (PSDP) for the Year 2010-11. Funds were allocated for the laying of cross-border opticle fibre cable system between China and Pakistan for voice & data traffic with Rs5 million while Rs20.676 were allocated for strengthening of server room at ministry of IT at Islamabad. In IT sector, the government allocated Rs692.641 in the budget 2010-11 for the ongoing schemes while Rs25.676 million were set aside for two new schemes. As per details of the allocation for different projects ongoing projects, Rs60 million were allocated for federal government data center & intranet at Islamabad. Another amount of Rs50 million was allocated for application of E-Office (Basic Common Applications at all divisions of the federal govt.). An amount of Rs20.325 million was allocated for phase-III of Internships at Islamabad.

According to official circles, the ministry of information technology and telecom (IT&T) performed well in all its spheres during the past two years as the overall teledensity increasing from 58.7 percent to 63.5 percent and a total foreign direct investment was recorded at US$2.253 billion. The ministry of information technology and telecom and its attached departments performed well and overall growth was witnessed in the ministry.

According to them, the government is fully aware how much it can gain monetarily by introducing 3G through mobile companies' investments. Acquiring it would not have only helped boost Pakistani dwindling economy but also would have earned a great status and a respectable state in the world scenario.

It may be recalled that mobile cellular policy was issued in January 2004 and PTA had awarded two new technology neutral mobile cellular licenses in May 2004 through an auction.

Telecom experts are demanding introduction of 3G mobile services without any further delay. Why the cellular operators want to delay the 3G and what would be the right time for them is not clear.

According to them, Pakistan can benefit monetarily for its recessed economy only by getting a real handsome price through the 3G spectrum auction and that would be possible if there is maximal competition.

They said India has already earned 15 billion dollars through 3G auction. Pakistan's experts are fully capable of handling all existing technologies; we are going to head for broadband mobile data services besides a vast variety of new data and value added services. The introduction of this technology can work wonders in health, education and various other public and private sectors, they added. The 3G injection will bring a new life to the telecom sector.