Since 2008, WiMAX has been operating in Pakistan. The unique thing about this broadband internet company is that it provides 4G technology. WiMAX believes that in order to excel, they must focus on industrial-based solutions, because with household subscribers, they have not been a success. Currently, there are around 2 million broadband users in Pakistan of which around 0.5 million subscribe to WiMAX and this subscription number is expected to increase ten times by 2020 as internet users would want to switch to better internet speed.
According to the company’s forum president, Declan Byrne, WiMAX is making better progress with international industrial markets. The aviation industrial around the world has adopted WiMAX as future surface communications technology. Pakistan WiMAX operations are facing challenges in Pakistan mainly due to stagnation of growth in the market. WiMAX’s competitor EVDO has gained more success over these two years as it according to Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA).
Besides facing tough competition, which can be good for growth and shows that there is space to grow in the market, WiMAX is going through a phase of lack of foreign investment due to the overall situation in the country. What Declan Byrne has suggested to the Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT) officials is that on-ground communications in aviation and smart grids for electricity management are the areas where they can grow their business in Pakistan. However, there is what we can call a Pakistani touch to the whole situation. As Byrne said that:
“The Pakistani government might have the desire to connect schools or manage the power utility or bridge the digital divide in villages. This could be done using WiMAX. But such solutions are not feasible for the private sector without government support. These are tough business cases for private operators to go and do on their own.”
An example of Bangladesh serves better here where the government has made plans to go digital and paperless by 2020. Such issues as Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited’s unlicensed use of spectrums are unfair to other competitors. Although the matter has been taken to Islamabad High Court, but the issue is still pending for any practical action.
The better solution that Byrne suggests considering now that the auction of 3G licenses has been delayed further due to cancellation of foreign consultants to monitor the process is to collaborate with the 3G operations along with WiMAX for data offloading and backhaul. Since he believes that 3G operators will oversell and under deliver their service, due to the data overload and data consumption in Pakistan, it is better that collaboration takes place.