Regulatory initiatives for affordable telecommunications services and digital transformation PTA issues

The critical frameworks have been developed by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for the digital transformation of Pakistan as envisaged in the Telecommunication Policy 2015.

These frameworks will reduce unnecessary inefficiencies and prove minimal impact on operators while ensuring accessibility and availability of affordable digital/telecom services across the country.

Telecommunications Infrastructure Sharing Framework (Section 7.5)

The PTA was to develop the necessary regulatory instrument to encourage, facilitate and standardize infrastructure sharing in consultation with the Federal Government (Ministry of Information and Telecommunications) and stakeholders.

There is a great need for shared telecom infrastructure in Pakistan due to rising inflation, low average revenue per user (ARPU), rising fuel prices, revenue challenges, huge CapEx requirement for new technologies like 5G, connectivity of unconnected in remote/rural areas, cost-effective means of addressing the increase in capacity demand, social benefits and national coverage.

Some prominent features are:

The framework has been developed by PTA based on the principles of neutrality, non-discrimination and equal access, taking into account regional and international best practices.
The framework will provide a mechanism for licensees to share their telecom infrastructure facilities which will include passive (tower space, conduits, etc.) as well as active (Access Network – BTS, BSC/RNC, Microwave, etc.) .
The draft Telecom Infrastructure Sharing Framework, following extensive and multiple rounds of industry consultation, was approved by the Authority in November 2022 and submitted to the Ministry of Information and Telecommunications (MoITT) for policy approval by the Federal Government.

Radio Frequency (RF) Spectrum Management.

RF spectrum is a scarce and limited natural resource. It’s the oil that powers wireless broadband. The availability of radio frequency spectrum for technological developments and to meet the increasing capacity requirements of broadband in the telecommunications industry is crucial.

In order to meet the increasing demands of radio frequency spectrum, regulators have focused on the latest trends in spectrum management with the aim of maximizing the social, economic and technological benefits of this natural resource. Spectrum Management is the process of regulating the use of radio frequencies in an efficient manner.

Radio frequency re-farming framework (Section 8.5): PTA/PEMRA in consultation with FAB has been mandated to propose a spectrum re-farming framework to be approved by the Federal Government (MoIT).

The spectrum will be re-exploited where its current use is not in the best social and economic interest of Pakistan, is underutilized, inefficiently used or its use is inconsistent with international allocations.
Re-farming will ensure that frequencies are reallocated to uses with greater social and commercial benefits than are possible from the prevailing allocation of these frequencies.
PTA in collaboration with PEMRA, FAB, industry stakeholders and MoITT has developed a regulatory framework after an extensive stakeholder consultation process which will be submitted after the approval of the Authority in due course to MoITT for approval by the Federal Government.

RF Spectrum Sharing Framework (Section 8.16): PTA & PEMRA, in consultation with FAB and stakeholders, were to develop the RF Spectrum Sharing Framework for approval by the Federal Government.

As directed by the GOP, the PTA has prepared a draft framework after multiple rounds of consultation with the industry and all internal/external stakeholders. Cross-sectoral concerns and comments on the draft frameworks were analyzed. Significant progress has been made in shaping radio spectrum sharing taking into account all international developments and market dynamics. The draft framework is now in final revision and will be shared with MoITT for approval.

Satellite Telecommunications Framework

The PTA is working on the formulation of the Satellite Telecommunication Licensing Framework as per the mandate given to it. In order to establish an agreed framework on the regulatory and financial aspects of satellite services in Pakistan, an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) was constituted by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. In this regard, the PTA has proposed a regulatory and licensing framework for the proliferation of satellite services in the country.

The proposed framework covers the licensing of Fixed Satellite Services (FSS), Mobile Satellite Services (MSS) – Global Mobile Personal Communication Services (GMPCS) and Maritime & Aeronautical Satellite Services (On-Board Internet Connectivity (OIC), with particular attention to spectrum management , taking into account the protection of existing services/users The framework also describes a registration process (Earth station, VSATs, etc.), taking into account international best practices.

This draft proposal has been submitted to MoITT for issuing policy instructions in order to introduce satellite telecommunication licensing regime in Pakistan.

PTA acknowledges the continued commitment and support of the telecom industry and in particular MoITT, FAB & PEMRA in developing these vital and high impact frameworks that will drive the industry forward.



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