Finance Minister Led Committee Likely to Finalize The Size and Band of 5G Spectrum This Week

The Advisory Committee for the IMT/5G spectrum auction, headed by the Caretaker Finance Minister Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, is likely to assess and finalize the availability of 282 MHz spectrum for auction any time this week.

Official sources told ProPakistani that the committee is scheduled to meet in the current week at any time depending on the availability of the caretaker finance minister.

The caretaker federal cabinet had approved the terms of reference (TORs) and the constitution of the Advisory Committee for the IMT/5G spectrum auction in the country including considering and approving the telecom reforms to induce investment and increase mobile broadband proliferation.

According to the ToRs, the committee would assess the availability of spectrum in 700 MHz, 2600 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 2100 MHz bands.
Sources revealed that the government has sufficient spectrum to offer for any future spectrum auction for NGMS in Pakistan; however, Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) are taking a cautious approach due to economic challenges and uncertainty in the market regarding the launch of 5G, well-placed sources revealed.

An official stated that the government has spectrum in all ITU bands earmarked for 5G, i.e., 700, 2100, 2300, 2600, and 3300 MHZ and above bands which are suitable for 5G. The same can be presented for auction envisaging technology neutral, i.e., for enactment of 4G in 2100, 2300, and 2600, and utilization of same for 5G as well in the country with limited rollout.

Official documents revealed the government has assigned 30 MHz in the 2100 band while 15 MHZ additional is made available for auction. Further, only 5MHz is assigned in the 2300 band, while 95 MHz is available. The government has 54 MHz in hand in the 2600 band where 140 MHz is in litigation and the government hopes to get it released early.

Three bands are being considered to be the most suitable for enhancing 4G, as well as, the launch of 5G in the country, whereas, remaining to make the best use for the FWA use case for 5G where the government has 115 MHz in 3300-3600 band while 185 MHz has been assigned.

Further, the committee would review and approve IMT/5G Policy Guidelines for the timely auction of available spectrum for IMT/5G services in the country. The committee would examine and approve the policy directives for the federal government for recommended telecom reforms and the release of the IMT/5G spectrum in Pakistan.

The ministry has also drafted a “Framework for Frequency Spectrum re-farming” to manage the spectrum dynamically and make it available for newer applications such as 4G, 5G, broadband wireless access, digital broadcasting, etc.

As per the Telecom Policy 2015 section 8.5.1, the spectrum will be re-farmed where its current use is not in the best social and economic interests of Pakistan, it is underutilized, used inefficiently or its use is inconsistent with international allocations. Incumbent users/ licensees, as per the details of this framework, will vacate their spectrum assignments in a particular band either partially or completely so that the band may be allocated to other users.

Spectrum reframing is a combination of administrative, financial and technical measures aimed at removing equipment of the existing frequency assignments either completely or partially from a particular frequency band. The frequency band may then be allocated to the same or different services.

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