Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication on Monday formally launched the “Telecommunication Policy 2015”, which was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) last month.
Telecom operators termed the policy as a milestone and catalyst for the industry growth; however, they linked it with the condition of implementation.
Jeffrey Hedberg, CEO Mobilink, said on the occasion that partnership between the industry and IT ministry/Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is progressive, which is being recognized inside as well as outside the country.
He said that Telecom policy is an excellent document and will be a catalyst to accelerate industry growth in the country as it covers the financial inclusion of the people.
Mr. Abdul Aziz, CEO Ufone, said that telecom policy is a framework and provides guidelines to move forward. However, there is need of practical solutions and the policy needs to be implemented in true spirit to achieve the desired goals. “We should highlight and focus on some points including competition within the industry, as we have not managed balance yet in this part”, Aziz added.
Mr. Liu Dianfeng, CEO Zong, termed the policy a good achievement and congratulated the government, saying the policy would play a pivotal role in the acceleration of digitalization in the country.
CEO Warid Muneer Farooqui said that it would have been better if the policy was announced earlier as it has been due for a long while now. “It has some very good things like spectrum sharing, spectrum trading and regulations for OTT which will be helpful for all operators. This is the basis which will develop in shape of rule and regulations framework”, Farooqui added.
Chief Corporate Affairs and Security Officer Telenor Aslam Hayat said the industry has great potential which needs to be exploited. He said that few years back Pakistan was not even member of the ITU, however the hard work and collaboration of the industry and ministry has changed things.
“The policy has addressed many things and issues which will add value and accelerate digitalization. However telecom sector’s services need to be made affordable. There are some barriers including taxes and duties on handsets, devices and smartphones which should be addressed”, Hayat added.
Adnan Shahid, Chief Commercial Officer of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) representing the President Walid Irshaid said that the company acknowledged the efforts of the minister and her team. However he said that taxes on internet needs to be addressed for providing and enabling environment that allow the broadband services to flourish.
In addition to Internet taxation, Mr. Adnan Shahid also highlighted the need for High Speed and Fiberization program under the framework of Telecom policy for a digital and connected Pakistan.
State Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Aunsha Rehman said that efforts for the development of IT and telecom sector have been appreciated globally. Pakistan is becoming a leading country with respect to accelerated growth and development in the IT and telecom sector.
Two and half a years ago, all the key posts at Ministry and PTA were vacant and system was being on adhoc basis, said the minister adding that grey trafficking was at peak.
She further said that broadband service penetration was less than three percent while little work was done with respect to Universal Service Fund (USF). However, the minister said that right men were selected for right places which resulted in the turn around.
Anusha Rehman said that grey trafficking has come down to the negligible level while white traffic has increased to over 1.5 billion minutes per month, up from 370 million minutes per month before reversal of ICH.
“Cyber law is being finalized in consultations with stakeholders while after the Telecom Policy, IT policy would be announced in the current year”, announced Anusha.
Chairman PTA Syed Ismail Shah said that though policy has been announced, which was milestone achievement, however now the big challenge is the implementation. All the stakeholders need to work for the smooth implementation of the policy.
Member Telecom Mudassir Hussain briefed participates on the “Telecom policy 2015”.
Member said that IT ministry had issued several policies like
- De-Regulation Policy for the Telecommunication Sector – July 2003
- Mobile Cellular Policy – January 28, 2004
- Broadband Policy – December 22, 2004
However, Telecom Policy 2015 is aimed at integration of the above policies and making it consistent with change in market structure and upcoming technologies, said Mr. Mudassir.
Member said that integrated development, review and updates of both Telecoms and IT policies are critically important.
Universally available, affordable and quality telecommunication services provided through open, competitive, and well managed markets and ubiquitously adopted to the benefit of the economy and society
Principles of Policy Delivery
- Market driven
- Appropriate regulation
- Forward looking
- Accelerated digitization
- Universal access
- Government intervention where necessary
- Telecommunications Markets & Services: Efficient markets with straight forward entry and exit of qualified entities that have sufficient financial resources to invest in and deliver services.
- Broadband Services: Widespread availability of affordable broadband services provided over fixed or mobile networks with characteristics that support contemporary and new digital applications and content.
- Telecommunications Infrastructure: Physical infrastructure and rights of way for the roll out of telecommunications networks that are readily available and accessible through clear processes.
- Spectrum: Allocation and assignment of spectrum to maximize social and economic benefits derived from the use of this scarce resource.
- Telecommunications Law and Regulation: A legal and regulatory environment that further promotes (continues) the development of efficient markets and the safeguards consumers.
- Use of Telecommunications Services: Progressive increase in penetration and use of telecommunications services of all kind, and of applications that enhance social and economic development.
- Universal Service Funding: Available and affordable telephony and universal broadband access to enable e/m services for covering under served and un-served population.
- Research & Development through the National ICT R&D Fund: An ICT sector, working within the international research and development community that provides applications and relevant content to support Pakistan’s developmental aims.
- Satellite Telecommunications: A balanced approach to encourage local and foreign investment and which promotes the deployment of Fixed, Broadcast and Mobile Satellite Services.
Telecommunications Markets & Services
- Promulgation of “Competition Rules” for provision of processes for market review
- Current licensing regime to continue
- Licensing policy framework to be reviewed by 31st December, 2016
- Regulatory framework for VoIP and Over-the-Top (OTT) services
- Public Wi-Fi hot spots for commercial use
- Facilitation and promotion of fibre and wireless network roll out
- Ensuring availability of spectrum
- Ensuring suitable backhaul arrangements
- Promotion of competition in retail services
- Development of regulatory framework for VoIP
- Facilitation of content sector and development of content
- Measures to improve provision and access to infrastructure
- Measures for migration from copper to fibre
- Development of Right of Way Framework
- Code for outside plant and in building cabling
- Infrastructure sharing (active and passive)
- Development of National Disaster Telecommunications Plan
- Rolling spectrum strategy
- Spectrum re-farming for efficient use
- Spectrum assignment methodologies:
- Administrative Incentive Pricing (AIP)
- Administrative Cost Recovery (ACR)
- AIP for Microwave Spectrum Assignments
- Spectrum trading for best use of spectrum
- Introduction of Spectrum sharing
Telecommunications Law & Regulation
- Measures to safeguard users, ensure optimal functioning of networks, and meet needs of changing environment:
- Introduction of Type approval regime
- Setting Quality of Service standards
- Transition to IpV6, preferably by 2017
- Support the development and maintenance of telecom services with appropriate characteristics to facilitate the delivery of content by a telecom network
Communications Network Security
- The concept of “Digital Borders” requires policy initiatives for protection of telecommunication networks and information flowing on these networks
- Deployment of an all encompassing integrated solution for security of communications ensuring long-term sustainability keeping in view the changing technological trends and capacity requirements
- Continuation of existing USF policy for:
- Availability of affordable voice telephony and broadband access
- Provision of community broadband services
- Provision of broadband access to education, health and other institutions
- USF services will include retail as well as wholesale services
- e/m services to be facilitated by the USF
- Promotion of satellite based services in Pakistan
- Regulations for establishment, operation and provision of satellite services
- Present rights and obligations of licensees (LL, LDI, Infrastructure) will continue to apply
- Introduction of Satellite Service Class License
- Protection against harmful interference
Public Sector Service Providers
- National Telecommunication Corporation
- Efficiency to be improved through indigenous investment by and/or establishment of partnerships
- Special Communications Organization
- Continue to develop, maintain and operate telecom systems, infrastructure and services within AJ&K and GB
- Local Manufacturing
- MoIT to assess the feasibility of domestic production of telecommunication equipment
Convergence between Telecom, IT & Broadcast
- Short Term:
- Development of a coordination mechanism between PTA and PEMRA with greater amount of linkages to bridge regulatory gaps
- Long Term:
- Extensive study for ultimate adoption of horizontal model of regulation based on integration of PTA and PEMRA onto one cohesive regulator
Policy Review & Implementation
- Policy will be subject to review after five years
- Development of appropriate regulatory frameworks for effective implementation
- Strengthening resource allocation and capacity building to ensure effective discharge of organizational responsibilities within MoIT and PTA