News Column

3G, 4G service: Expert urges responsible use of latest technology

May 21, 2014

With the country's cellular mobile operators (CMOs) receiving licences for third-generation (3G) and 4G mobile internet technology on May 22, a leading technology expert says the government should form policies to enforce a more productive use of the high-speed mobile broadband.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) the telecom sector's regulatory body will award 3G and 4G licences to the CMOs on Thursday, according to sources. This will enable the telecom industry to commercially launch high-speed mobile internet technology that is currently in the testing phase.

With the service providers doing away with the final formality before the commercial launch of 3G broadband, Information Communication Technology (ICT) expert Parvez Iftikhar said wireless broadband technologies should be used for services like education, healthcare and governance, especially for the uplift of rural areas as opposed to merely downloading music videos.

Also a former managing director of the Universal Service Fund (USF), Iftikhar said that these new technologies should provide broadband to schools, healthcare facilities and local government offices through the private sector telecom. This can be done using funding from the USF that currently holds more than Rs70 billion.

Funded by the country's telecom sector, the USF was established to promote the development of telecommunication services in un-served and under-served areas throughout the country.

With such a high amount available with USF, the expert said it was time the government crafted policies to implement the merits of mobile broadband to the social sector.

The former USF chief expressed his concern regarding the application of these facilities. He stated that 3G or 4G will merely be deployed for services that may not prove to be practical such as cheap videos.

"Content creation in the fields of education, healthcare and governance, with the help of concerned ministries, must be started," Iftikhar said. There is some content available but only to 2G mobile networks, he says. "Now the same information and knowledge could be communicated in a much better way using video clips transmitted over 3G/4G networks."

The government has to take the lead in coordinating among provincial governments and other line-ministries of the federal government, according to Iftikhar.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2014.

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Source: Express Tribune (Pakistan)

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