Sector watchdog the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has published a consultation paper on the future of the nation’s WiLL regime, with licences held by eleven companies across the 450MHz, 1900MHz and 3.5GHz bands set to expire in 2024. The paper states that the sector saw a sharp downward turn from 2013-14 onwards: according to the regulator, 3.11 million subscribers used the technology at its peak in 2011-12, but that figure had fallen to 200,000 in 2016-17 before rebounding to around 300,000 the following year. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the long-delayed launch of 3G and 4G mobile data services in 2014 presented a major challenge to the WiLL sector by offering faster download speeds at lower costs and without restrictions on mobility. The consultation document goes on to highlight the value of spectrum currently utilised by WiLL providers for the development of wireless services, in particular the 3.5GHz band, which is highly sought-after for 5G services. The PTA has sought opinions of industry stakeholders on – amongst other things – whether the WiLL sector can be sustained until 2024 and whether there is a business case for their continued operation beyond that date.
In a separate development, meanwhile, the PTA has published a request for expressions of interest (EoI) for a consultancy firm to support a spectrum auction to take place in 2020-21. The upcoming sale will feature frequencies in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands.