The government says it is planning to rollout 5G in 2022-23
One of the themes we have seen time and time again with the coronavirus is the importance and acceleration of digitalisation. With so many movement restrictions in place, the digital economy has grown substantially in markets all over the world, heightening the need for high quality connectivity.
Pakistan is an excellent example in this regard, with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) announcing accelerated plans for 5G deployment as part of its annual report on Sunday. The regulator says that it is working to develop a roadmap for 5G development in Pakistan, including auctioning “spectrum for…5G services in the fiscal year 2023.”
According to the report, Pakistan’s digital economy has grown enormously during the pandemic, prompting the regulator to re-evaluate its timelines for the next generation of mobile technology.
Currently in Pakistan, 5G development and deployment is relatively nascent, with the operators still trialling 5G services in a very limited environment and on non-commercial basis in 2019 and 2020.
As a result, to what extent the nation’s operators can actually meet these 2023 goals remains to be seen. Pakistan’s Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication, Aminul Haque, has previously said that the government had planned a commercial 5G launch by December 2022, though many believe that this is overly optimistic, instead suggesting that it will take closer to five years for 5G to become a reality.
Nonetheless, this announcement shows that the perceived value of 5G deployment has increased enormously over the last year, rising up the government agenda for even developing nations.
Meanwhile, the digital transformation in Pakistan continues to take place in a variety of forms against the backdrop of the pandemic. Just two weeks ago, a multi-year collaboration between the State Bank of Pakistan and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with support from the World Bank, Britain and the United Nations, revealed a new government-run instant digital payment system, called Raast. This platform is intended to boost financial inclusion, as well as government revenue, curbing illegal financial transactions and helping to lift the population out of poverty.
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