Five years to 5G, says PTA

September 17, 2019

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The committee’s chairperson argues the governement should not introduce 5G unless a national cyber security policy is put in place to protect data.
The committee’s chairperson argues the governement should not introduce 5G unless a national cyber security policy is put in place to protect data.

ISLAMABAD: The testing and launch of 5G cellular communication technology was discussed during a Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication on Monday, where senators asked why one company was given a headstart to test its technology while two others are still waiting for the approvals required for the purpose.

They further asked why Zong, the one company that has tested its 5G technology in a ceremony was creating the impression that it is in fact offering 5G connections to consumers.

Chairperson of the committee, Senator Rubina Khalid, also said that the company was advertising its 5G technology and it even placed streamers during an event held a few days ago in Islamabad.

The committee members said that the companies should not be allowed to do business gimmicks through false claims.

Companies told to refrain from advertising they have the new technology

Senator Mian Ateeq Shaikh asked why Zong was allowed to test 5G and alleged that other companies were deliberately not allowed to do so. He claimed that Zong was advertising as a first network which has started testing of 5G.

PTA Member Khawar Siddique Khokhar said that it was not correct that only Zong was allowed to test 5G and other companies were disallowed.

“The fact is that in October 2017 a policy was made to allow the companies to test the technology for three to six months. In June 2019, we gave framework of the policy on our website and Zong sought approval to test the technology and it introduced it in a radius of around 500 meters in Islamabad. However, as the masses were asking whether Zong has introduced 5G technology, so we have written a letter to the company asking it to avoid such claims,” he said.

Another PTA official said that Telenor had applied to test 5G on July 22, Jazz on July 30 and the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd on Aug 2.

“Zong did a joint venture with Wi-tribe and used its spectrum to test the technology. However, other companies don’t have spectrum so they could not start testing,” he said.

Mr Khokhar informed the committee that the 5G technology would be introduced between 2023 and 2025 and it will be ensured that companies do not make a cartel at the time of its auction.

Meanwhile, the PTA has informed general public that Zong is not authorised to offer commercial mobile services based on 5G technology in Pakistan.

“The cellular mobile operator (CMO) has already been communicated to withdraw any advertisements that may mislead the public regarding availability of commercial services based on 5G network,” the PTA said in a press release issued on Monday.

“In line with the policy directive issued by the Government of Pakistan, the PTA has unveiled its roadmap for facilitating public testing of 5G technology and related services in Pakistan this year. This trial was the first one to be conducted. Other CMOs will also conduct 5G trials in the future, under policy guidelines,” the regulator explained.

The members of the Senate committee disagreed with the committee’s chairperson who wanted to ban testing of 5G technology.

Rubina was of the view that Pakistan should not introduce the technology unless it makes a national cyber security policy and ensure that data of all the institutions is protected.

“I suggest that there should be no more testing of the 5G [the fifth generation cellular network] technology as long as we protect our data which can easily be stolen because of the new technology which will provide very fast downloading,” she said.

However, Senators Shahzad Waseem, Mian Ateeq Shaikh, Faisal Javed and Rukhsana Zuberi disagreed and said that it would be a major drawback to the country if testing of the new technology would be stopped.

Ministry of Information Techn­ology’s Secretary Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui said that every new technology brings risks, along with it, but it does not mean that it should be abandoned.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2019