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Pakistan Telecom Authority plans to roll out digital push-to-talk system

By Muhammad Yasir

Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) has planned to roll out digital push-to-talk (PTT) network in the country with 800 MHz band spectrums by the next six months considering its high demand for commercial and security purposes, a top official told Daily Times.

The regulatory body will auction band spectrums followed by the allocation of the separate frequency allocations among them. PTA is intending to segregate the spectrum on the basis of frequency bandwidth as well as the geographical area for it’s auctioning, it has been decided.

Digital PTT technology has the potential to bring several benefits to several sectors of Pakistan’s population. Applications of this technology will include all forms of distress signaling, emergency calling, health services, services for fire and security personnel,

Intelligence / border surveillance-type communication and in mainstream businesses perhaps a ready-fit for logistics and transport type operations where an instructor or superintendent is advising instructions to several junior / field staff. In Pakistan frequency bands: 806 – 811MHz and 851-856 MHz have been identified for trunk radio services in the National Frequency Plan. iDEN is one of the few technologies that is capable of providing digital PTT service to various closed-circuit sectors of Pakistan over these bands, it learnt.

Chairman PTA, Dr Muhamamd Yaseen told Daily Times the market would consider every service providers of the digital PTT system as the authority will provide equal opportunity to every player.

He said some of the cellular phone companies have shown keen interest in introducing digital PTT services through their existing wide-base network, however, he said the authority will also include separate independent PTT operators in the race to make competitive market of this technology, aiming to thrive this facility as soon as possible in country.

Currently, the PTA has taken initiatives to acquire industry feedback on the regulatory framework to be adopted for licensing of digital PTT service in Pakistan, he added. PTA chief told the digital systems will be catering to the internal needs of private companies and organisations and enhance new business opportunities in the telecom sector.

In order to bridge this gap between legacy analogue private mobile systems and modern digital public land mobile systems such as GSM, UMTS etc. a new genre of technologies have been developed that can serve the needs of closed circuit Radio users. These technologies include TETRA(Europe), iDEN (USA and Canada), IDRA (Japan), TETRAPOL and Project 25. However, in Pakistan, the private mobile radio is still being used by closed circuit users such as public safety organizations, industrial firms, transportation & security organizations etc.

According to Statistics there are about 47.65 million employed industrial workers in Pakistan as estimated in 2006-07. A good majority of these workers are associated with agriculture, forestry, fishing industry, security organisations, factories, refineries, construction, and transport related businesses. All of these businesses rely heavily on private mobile radios in VHF band for carrying out their dispatch related activities, and hence, are potential users of digital PTT system.

Industry people were of the view the Push-to-Talk digital services will prove to be another milestone in the most competitive and advance telecom sector of the country. They forecast that the advance digital communication system will also attract foreign services operators in the country and the inflow of Foreign Direct Investment will increase in this sector from various countries of the world. Source: Daily Times, 17-Apr-09

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