Around a decade ago, GSM was the latest ‘in’ thing in the world. It promised superior quality and strength over traditional TDMA/CDMA systems and a host of other benefits. It became so popular, that over 3 quarters of the world embraced it! SMS’ing became a curiosity, then a fashion statement and then a need. So much so, that it started representing the lifeblood of communication among many.
Today, its 3G. Promising a high speed data bandwidth and a multitude of benefits, 3G is poised to take over as the dominant mobile technology. The only thing is, it is being sidelined by the incumbents, especially in Pakistan! They’ve invested way too much and do not want anything to take over their revenue stream. The situation is not so different as it was in the US when GSM was launched. The incumbents were too rigid to allow a new technology to come in, and as a result, the US telecom market is shaped very differently from the rest of the world.
The thing is, with the advent of a 3G spectrum, two things can happen.
1. Existing operators would upgrade their networks and add 3G capability. I really dont see that happening anytime soon, since quite a few of them are still in the process of expanding their reach and capacities.
2. New operators would appear to tap the gap.
The second step was being railroaded in the past couple of months, ever since the topic of 3G came up. The thing is, the mobile operators are a strong party, which can twist the arm of law makers into their favor. Or atleast they thought. The PTA has been surprisingly proactive in making sure unfair practices are not done by these giants. The latest blow, or so it seem, was to allow them 9 months, instead of the 2 years they were demanding, for auctioning of the 3G spectrum in the country. The PTA has finally decided to go ahead with the auctioning of the 3G spectrum late this year and have new operators and service providers compete and bring this technology home.
In any event, we should expect to see some form a rollout between 2009-2010 of 3G services and service providers, opening a whole new door of opportunities and economic activities.