Having a mobile phone nowadays is one’s passport to the entire world. Modern day mobile technologies have taken wireless connectivity to a whole new level and now a mobile phone number is a universal identity.
In the past few years, Pakistan’s growth in mobile tele-density has turned several heads and has attracted some of the world’s largest foreign direct investments. Mobile users in Pakistan are increasing every year and the demand for newer, faster and better technologies has risen at a faster pace than was expected – thus the need to be at par with the rest of the world has urged the industry to take further steps at a faster rate. After the installation of GSM and CDMA networks, companies will now be able to offer customers the wonders of 3G (Third generation) networks in Pakistan shortly. 3G wireless networks refer to near future developments in personal and business wireless technology, especially relating to mobile communication. It will usher in many benefits, such as roaming capability, broad bandwidth and high speed communication (up to 2Mbps).
By definition, 3G represents the convergence of various 2G wireless telecommunication systems into a single uniform global system which includes terrestrial and satellite components in its functioning.
Network operators and telecommunication service provider’s world over, are embracing the recently adopted global third generation wireless standards in order to cater to emerging user demands and to offer new services.
The 3G wireless technology represents a shift from voice-centric services to multimedia-oriented like video, voice, data, and fax services. The most interesting and useful aspect of it is its ability to unify existing cellular standards such as GSM, CDMA and TDMA.
However, in Pakistan’s current situation this dream may not become a reality for some time and this is not because the technology or resources are not available. Many companies have a reluctance to move in to remote areas even today, at the risk of slowing the growth rate in urban areas, where every third person has a mobile connection already.
On the customer’s side, it is well known that an average Pakistani consumer’s first priority is always the cost of goods, its long term benefits and value addition if any. In order to satisfy these requirements, cell phone service providers come up with different tariff packages to suit every pocket and thus increase their customer base. Today one can get a normal GSM phone with the connection for not more than Rs5000. The cost then only goes as high as the cell phone. Even with the GSM network, many of the features are still not available to users and most people do not take advantage of those that are being offered to reduce additional costs in their bills.
In this scenario, the introduction of 3G will only enhance currently available features and thus industry gurus are not expecting any movement in the growth rate in the next few years.
3G technology is going to be expensive, both to the customer as well as the provider. It would be prudent for providers to stick to current networks, increase their coverage base and improve their service. Even if the licenses are obtained as per government schedules, the implementation can be put on hold until the customer has truly explored all avenues of GSM and is ready for the next revolution. This move, otherwise, will only remain as another alternative to GSM availed by a limited number of subscribers and with limited features. In other words 3G may just be GSM at broadband speed.