ISLAMABAD: The government is contemplating launching 5G services could be further delayed by more than a year due to prolonged court cases. The spectrum auction has already been pending for several years for the same reason.

According to the details available from the Economic Advisory Wing of the Ministry of Finance, the IT ministry has stated that groundwork is being set to make Pakistan a global digital player, and the Advisory Committee for the launch of 5G has already been constituted under the finance minister.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) was currently in the process of hiring consultants for the 5G spectrum auction.

The IT ministry’s report for inclusion in the upcoming Economic Survey 2023-24 highlighted that the government intends to create an investment-centric environment, encouraging all telecom operators to participate in the 5G spectrum auction.

It added that the mobile operators in country including Zong, Jazz, Telenor, Ufone have successfully carried out 5G trials, and they were utilising 274 MHz of spectrum but to introduce 5G services the auction would be held to utilise an additional 300 MHz of spectrum for commercial mobile broadband services.

At the same time, the IT ministry has expressed confidence that, with the active support of stakeholders, including the law ministry and the Attorney General for Pakistan, several court cases pending for a long time are being actively pursued.

The IT ministry’s other initiatives included formulating the initial draft of Pakistan’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy, and the National Artificial Policy Committee was formed in this regard.

The report also highlights the importance of the Electronic Certification Accreditation Council (ECAC) for providing conducive environment for electronic transactions through trust, legal and stringent policy framework.

The ECAC is the regulatory body with enforcement powers to regulate electronic transactions in the public and private sectors. It grants and renews certificates issued to Certification Service Providers (CSPs) including their cryptography services and security procedures and to keep the nation abreast with changing trends of e-commerce while protecting the interests of related stakeholders.

All companies, individuals or firms engaged in the business of electronic services are required to use accredited digital certificates for security, integrity and authenticity.

It provides a legal framework to recognise and facilitate documents, records, information, communications, and transactions in electronic form, enabling digital signatures to be accepted on par with handwritten signatures.

Pakistan has deployed the National Root Certification Authority (NRCA) for effective implementation, creation, and management of electronic transactions in the country and the ECAC will enroll Pakistan’s National Root CA in the globally recognised browsers such as Mozilla’s Firefox, Microsoft’s Edge, Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari, etc., as well as the Operating Systems including Microsoft’s Windows, Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS&macOS, etc.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2024

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