The testing and launch of 5G cellular communication technology were discussed throughout a Senate standing committee on information Technology and Telecommunication on Monday, wherever senators asked why one company was given a headstart to check its technology whereas two others are still expecting the approvals needed for the purpose.
They more asked why Zong, the one company that has tested its 5G technology during a ceremony was making the impression that it is, in fact, providing 5G connections to consumers.
Chairperson of the committee, senator Rubina Khalid, additionally said that the company was advertising its 5G technology and it even placed streamers throughout an event held a few days ago in Islamabad.
The committee members further said that the companies should not be allowed to do business gimmicks through false claims.
Senator Mian Ateeq Shaikh asked why Zong was allowed to check 5G and alleged that other firms were deliberately not allowed to do so. He claimed that Zong was advertising as 1st network that has started testing of 5G.
PTA Member Khawar Siddique Khokhar said that it had been not correct that solely Zong was allowed to check 5G and other companies were disallowed.
“The fact is that in October 2017 a policy was created to permit the companies to check the technology for three to six months. In June 2019, we gave the framework of the policy on our web site and Zong wanted approval to check the technology and it introduced it in a radius of around five hundred meters in Islamabad. However, because the lots were asking whether or not Zong has introduced 5G technology, therefore we’ve got written a letter to the company asking it to avoid such claims,” he said.
Another PTA official said that Telenor had applied to check 5G on July 22, Jazz on July 30 and the Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd on August 2.
“Zong did a collaboration with Wi-tribe and used its spectrum to check the technology. However, other companies don’t have spectrum so that they couldn’t begin testing,” he said.
Mr. Khokhar informed the committee that the 5G technology would be introduced between 2023 and 2025 and it’ll be ensured that companies don’t create a syndicate at the time of its auction.
Meanwhile, the PTA has informed the overall public that Zong isn’t licensed to supply commercial mobile services supported 5G technology in Pakistan.
“The cellular mobile operator (CMO) has already been communicated to withdraw any advertisements that will mislead the general public relating to the provision of commercial services supported 5G network,” the PTA said during a announcement issued on Monday.
“In line with the policy directive issued by the govt of Pakistan, the PTA has unveiled its roadmap for facilitating public testing of 5G technology and related services in Pakistan this year. This trial was the primary one to be conducted. Other CMOs also will conduct 5G trials within the future, under policy guidelines,” the regulator explained.
The members of the Senate committee disagreed with the committee’s chairperson who wished to ban testing of 5G technology.
Rubina was of the view that Pakistan shouldn’t introduce the technology unless it makes a national cybersecurity policy and make sure that information of all the institutions are protected.
“I recommend that there ought to be no additional testing of the 5G technology as long as we tend to protect our information which might simply be stolen due to the new technology which can offer very fast downloading,” she said.
However, Senators Shahzad Waseem, Mian Ateeq Shaikh, Faisal Javed, and Rukhsana Zuberi disagreed and said that it might be a serious downside to the country if testing of the new technology would be stopped.
Ministry of Information Technology’s Secretary Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui said that each new technology brings risks, along with it, however it doesn’t mean that it ought to be abandoned.