Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman said on Tuesday that Pakistan would be the first South Asian country to test 5th generation cellular services for fast connectivity. In September 2016, Minister Ahsan Iqbal said the government was getting ready to launch faster cellular services called 5th Generation soon.

Is it possible? In short, no. Launching the 5G spectrum in Pakistan in the next ten months is almost impossible. This news surprised people because some places in the country don’t even have 3G internet. In this research article, our Tashheer research team will discuss all the realities of why a 5G Launch is impossible in Pakistan in the upcoming ten months.

Why is 5G Launch Almost Impossible in the Next 10 Months in Pakistan

Due to economic uncertainty, the constant devaluation and ongoing depreciation of Pakistani currency against the dollar, and a lack of technology to support the 5G spectrum in the nation, local mobile operators are not ready to purchase 5G licenses. A report by OpenSignal showed that Pakistan’s average 3G speed is one of the world’s lowest, at just 3.33Mbps. In contrast, South Korea has the highest average mobile internet speed globally, at 41.34Mbps. Zong and Warid are the only top companies offering 4G in Pakistan. Warid focuses on major revenue-generating cities for its 4G coverage. Zong says it is the top provider of 4G, but people still have trouble with connectivity. Some areas, like Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, don’t have 3G or 4G, but some companies offer 2.75G there.

If you are looking for reliable connectivity, explore our guide on the Best Internet Service Providers in Pakistan to find the top options available.

The Ministry of IT and Telecommunication has yet to bring 5G technology for auctioning licenses. After meeting with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Umer Saif announced 5G’s launch in Pakistan within ten months. Reporters asked via WhatsApp how the authority would compensate local operators who were not ready to buy licenses due to economic conditions, how infrastructure would be funded if licenses were auctioned for less, and how the government would facilitate local networks for 5G. Additionally, the Ministry of IT has not issued a 5G license auction policy, a process that typically takes months.

According to an anonymous source within the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the launch of 5G in the next 10 months seems improbable. Local network operators are hesitant to purchase licenses due to various challenges, and the Ministry of IT has not yet formulated a strategy for 5G licensing. Additionally, the lack of technological infrastructure discourages investing in 5G spectrum licenses.

According to a source, due to tariffs and import restrictions, people can’t afford 5G phones. Local operators can’t upgrade networks for 5G due to import restrictions and LC bans.

InfrastructureLack of adequate infrastructure that include fiber optic networks, towers, and equipment necessary for 5G deployment.
Spectrum AllocationDelays in allocating suitable spectrum bands for 5G networks, hindering operators from rolling out services.
Regulatory FrameworkUnclear or outdated regulatory policies and frameworks related to spectrum licensing, tariffs, and standards.
Public PerceptionConcerns about health risks associated with 5G technology leading to public opposition and regulatory scrutiny.
Skill DevelopmentLack of skilled workforce proficient in 5G technology, hindering deployment and maintenance of networks.
Government SupportInadequate support from the government in terms of policies, incentives, and initiatives to promote 5G deployment.
Geographic ChallengesDifficult terrain and remote areas present challenges in establishing coverage and maintaining network reliability.

According to the source, before auctioning 5G spectrum licenses, Pakistan’s Ministry of IT issues a policy to PTA under Section 8, which then hires international consultants to analyze and suggest auctioning templates. As of today, nothing has begun. Pakistan has allocated a 30 MHz frequency for 5G for a while, but operators hesitate to invest. One of the mobile network operators declared that even less than 5% of consumers may have access to devices that enable 5G spectrum. As less than 50% of the population have mobile phones that handle the mentioned frequency, one major operator informed us that Pakistan is a country where the 4G spectrum has not actually reached the best level.

To understand the broader tech landscape in Pakistan, read about how a Chinese Tech Giant is Interested in Investing in Mobile Phone Manufacturing and EV Bikes.

Although specialists are still undecided about what exactly 5G means, the technology will undoubtedly be a game-changer, enabling users to download large amounts of data within seconds. 5G speeds are predicted to be one thousand times faster than present LTE data transfer speeds. China has even tested a prototype with data transfer speeds of 3.5Gbps. Furthermore, 5G services will be operating on a millimeter wave base.

Last year, the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform said Ahsan Iqbal’s comments about 5G were misunderstood. They clarified that Ahsan Iqbal never said Pakistan was about to switch to 5G. Instead, he was talking about Pakistan falling behind in technology. The spokesperson added that the government is working hard to spread 3G and 4G services nationwide as part of Vision 2025 for a modern knowledge economy.

Telecom officials confess that the quality of 3G and 4G services is very low. “Customers aren’t happy with them. There is a huge gap to be filled regarding 3G and 4G connectivity services” a telecom company insider told to Aamir Hafeez Ibrahim, CEO of Jazz Networks, expressed similar sentiments in his tweets and interviews. However, in Pakistan, numerous obstacles such as taxation and teledensity complicate the process.

Read more about: Top 6 Telecommunication Companies in Pakistan

From 2014 to 2017, Pakistan earned around 1.8 billion USD from auctioning 3G/4G licenses to mobile networks. In 2021, PTA issued Ufone a 4G license which contained enhanced network rollout requirements and quality of service standards to protect the interests of customers.

Previously, Ufione had submitted a bid of $279 million for a 9MHz block in the 1800Mhz band and the sum of the revenues from the spectrum auction was $279 million. PTA also granted new licenses to 3 popular cellular companies after winning spectrum in the first-ever cellular spectrum auction for Next Generation Mobile Services in Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan which generated revenue to the tune of $30.322 million.

Final Words

Tashheer LogoIn this research article, our Tashheer research team has discussed all the facts of why 5G Launch is almost impossible in the coming 10 months in Pakistan. Currently, only 10% of towers are connected via fiber-optic, while the majority rely on microwave connections, making it nearly impossible for Pakistani operators to offer a 5G network. Without clear policies, regulatory frameworks, and infrastructure upgrades, the idea of bringing 5G to Pakistan remains distant.

About the Author: Alishba

Alishba Zaheer is the lead content writer at Tashheer Digital and has a genuine passion for storytelling. With her team of skillful content writers, her expertise lies in the ability to seamlessly adapt writing style to various niches, checking new trends in Tech, especially in Pakistan. She stays ahead of the curve and maintains her dedication to writing excellence. Among other things, she has been instrumental in researching local brands, Pakistani products, and services, providing benchmark articles for Pakistani audiences.