Following the cabinet’s approval, the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) will start the Infrastructure Sharing Framework.
The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) hosted a webinar on Wednesday titled “Adopting 5G to Positively Impact Environment: A Roadmap for Pakistan” in which Member Telecom Omar Malik made the aforementioned statement.
He added that programmes like sharing spectrum and infrastructure will be essential for enhancing connectivity, minimising network outages, and lessening environmental effects. He stated that since 2020, the overall deployment of fibre optic in Pakistan has expanded from 124,000 km to 190,000 km, citing a research done in partnership with the World Bank that identified optic fibre penetration as a major impediment. He added that other obstacles to the rollout of 5G in the nation include consumer affordability and economic uncertainty.
In his opening remarks, Brigadier Mohammad Yasin (Retired), Senior Advisor Emeritus, SDPI highlighted political and economic instability, a higher tax on IT services, a lacklustre fibre optics network, pricey frequency spectrum, a lack of funding, and unfeasible smartphone prices as major obstacles causing a decline in investor interest, deteriorating IT services, and delaying the rollout of 5G in Pakistan.
The introduction of 3G and 4G has a revolutionary impact on other industries, such as transportation, fintech, and more, according to Khalid Khan, Chairman of the Central Asian Cellular Forum. He emphasised that the top exportable resource is human resources and urged the promotion of competitive engineering skills to take advantage of the potential growth of the global IT sector.
Instead of viewing them as ways to generate cash, he urged the government to concentrate on the bigger picture of connectivity through supportive policy measures.
In order to prevent consumers from switching back to 4G owing to low utility, Abdul Rehman Usmani, VP Network, Jazz, emphasised that rather than speeding up the launch of 5G, the ideal strategy is to establish use cases and a viable business model. He emphasised creating a supportive ecosystem through R&D facilities, a sound regulatory framework, and spectrum priced in Pakistan Rupees (PKR).
According to Fareeha Armughan, Research Fellow at SDPI, 5G will accelerate the development of contemporary financial services, cloud computing, and AI. Banks are already eager to switch from traditional banking to quick, touchless, and simple financial services. Combining mobile and financial services is the best instrument for including economically vulnerable people and closing the loop on the whole cycle of poverty reduction.
Aslam Hayat, an ICT regulatory expert, emphasised that the adoption of 5G offers potential benefits in terms of energy efficiency, a catalyst for the uptake of renewable energy, efficient resource management through the promotion of AI, IoT, and use of sensors, etc., reduction in greenhouse emissions through the adoption of smart technologies, particularly in the transport sector, and improvement in air quality.
But he also noted that these have drawbacks, such as a sharp increase in electricity demand and consumption, a rise in e-waste load as consumers switch to the newest 5G-capable devices, and adverse effects on the environment, biodiversity, habitats, and ecosystems as a result of infrastructure development.
By 2030, economic and industrial digitalization will have a disproportionately large impact on emissions, accounting for 50% of total emissions, according to Fawad Sarwar, Solutions Architect at Ericsson, Australia. Currently, telecom and IT generate 1.4 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
He explained how the utilisation of sensors, AI, and IoT-enabled devices may lower emissions from the building and transportation industries. He emphasised a three-pronged strategy to break the energy curve and lessen environmental impact, including sustainable network evolution, network expansion and modernization, and intelligent operation.
Research coordinator Maryam Shabbir Abbasi at the University of Vermont emphasised that developed nations have success stories of emission reduction accomplished through the use of 5 G-enabled technologies in industry. She emphasised that during climatic disasters like the most recent floods, 5G can improve early warning systems, connectivity, intelligence, and information distribution.
In his concluding remarks, Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director of SDPI, emphasised that the predicted penetration of 1 trillion interconnected devices will result in a four-fold increase in lithium consumption and a large rise in energy demand. In order to meet energy demand, he emphasised innovative self-energizing and energy harvesting techniques as well as catching electromagnetic waves generated by these connected devices through micro-antennas.