Pakistan has yet to develop an enabling environment for 5G technology and owing to fiscal challenges, this is not the right time for the country to launch 5G, said GSMA Asia-Pacific Head, Julian Gorman.
Pakistan has yet to develop an enabling environment for 5G technology and owing to fiscal challenges, this is not the right time for the country to launch 5G, said GSMA Asia-Pacific Head, Julian Gorman while speaking to a select group of journalists.
“The advantages of 5G are not limited to mobile users only; it also helps digitise industries. Now, however, is not the right time for Pakistan to launch 5G,” he said.
Regarding the Digital Pakistan initiative, Gorman expressed dismay saying, “The situation has not changed much since my last visit to Pakistan three years ago.”
Referring to the GSMA intelligence report, he highlighted that policymakers in Pakistan have an opportunity to accelerate progress with Digital Pakistan and lay a strong foundation for 5G.
“This can be done by implementing vital reforms using the whole of government approach (WGA) to improve the financial health of the overall telecom sector and the ability of industry players to invest and innovate,” explained Gorman.
“The scale of investment needed to meet the infrastructural challenges for the launch of 5G is significant and taking into account the current rate of investment, it will take a long time, maybe years to achieve that level,” he stated.
Gorman underscored that, “Currently, the top challenge for Pakistan related to the IT and telecom sector is its inability to attract investment. The industry is facing financial constraints as the cost of doing business is increasing while return on investment is decreasing.”
“Apart from fostering a competitive environment, Pakistan needs to have clear and implementable policies so that the overall IT ecosystem is transparent enough for modernisation. A clear roadmap for future investment is also mandatory,” he said.
Suggesting that Pakistan needs to amend certain policies, such as delinking government payments in US dollars especially after the devaluation of the currency, he said, “The tariffs and earnings are in rupees terms whereas the payments to the government are at the dollar rate. Accordingly, the devaluation of the rupee has only added to the financial burden of the industry,” he said.
Giving India as an example, where policy makers amend policies based on the changing environment, the head of GSMA Asia-Pacific cautioned, “If policies are not amended and implemented in Pakistan, the telecom sector’s future prospects are not encouraging.”
Originally published at The Express Tribune