Monday, April 28, 2014
China Mobile is lauching LTE in Multan
Amid a tortured process which almost led to Pakistan's 3G auction being cancelled, the spectrum sale has gone ahead, with China Mobile emerging as the country's first 4G carrier.
Four of Pakistan's existing cellcos - Zong, Ufone, Mobilink and Telenor - gained a 3G licence while China Mobile's local subsidiary, Zong, also purchased national spectrum in the 1.8GHz band - anointed this week by the GSA as the world's most popular for LTE. It promptly proclaimed itself "Pakistan's first and only 4G operator", adding: "Zong is committed to providing the fastest mobile internet and best 3G/4G network in Pakistan."
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) sold 3G frequencies in 2.1GHz and gave the winners the option of also buying 1.8GHz licences, but only Zong took up that offer, despite speculation that Pakistan would be one of the countries, slow to 3G, which would choose to leapfrog straight to 4G. Only the fifth cellco, Warid, which stayed away from the auction, is choosing that route.
Warid, an early WiMAX mover with its Wateen unit in Pakistan, plans to deploy LTE in five cities this year, initially using its existing 1.8GHz GSM holdings. That move enabled it to save outlay on 3G licences. Warid is reported to be planning LTE launches in Islamabad, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and Karachi. It could also potentially migrate WiMAX spectrum in 2.5GHz to TD-LTE in future, creating a common ecosystem with Indian carriers.