Frequencies being evaluated for 5G

Pakistan is gearing up to roll out 5G mobile phone services in the country by fiscal year 2022-2023 with an auction of unused telecom spectrum according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

In this connection, the following bands are being evaluated for adoption of 5G services as low bands, mid bands and high bands: (i) 700 MHz; (ii) 2.3 GHz; (iii) 2.6 GHz; (iv) 3.5 GHz; (v) MiIIimeter wave bands; (vi) C-Band (3.6-4.2) GHz and (vii) Unlicensed Backhaul Frequency bands (P2P & P2MP).

“PTA is aiming for auctions of spectrum for proliferation of LTE and VoLTE (Voice over Long-Term Evolution) Services in FY 2021 and 5G services in FY 2023,” PTA said.

Pakistan already has some 91 million 3G/4G subscribers. Mobile phone operators in Pakistan have already conducted trials of 5G services in Pakistan. Pakistani mobile phone operators including China Mobile Pakistan (CMPak) that operates under Zong, Jazz and Telenor conducted 5G trials in August 2019, January 2020 and March 2020. These were among the first trials of 5G services in any South Asian country, with a recorded download speed of more than 1 Gigabits per second (Gbps), making Pakistan a pioneer of 5G trials in the region.

The first 5G call between Islamabad and Beijing was made in November 2020. Zong  became the first Pakistani operator to make the country’s pioneering 5G NSA (Non-Standalone Access) call in collaboration with Beijing Mobile. The NSA setup allows operators to leverage their existing network investments in communications and mobile core, instead of deploying a new core for 5G.

GSMA estimates that by 2023, the economic contribution of the mobile industry in Pakistan is estimated to reach $24 billion, which is 6.6% of GDP.