The (Sorry) State of 3G

Condition of 3G is not looking good in some countries. In Pakistan, the word ‘3G’ gives rise to the now hackneyed question — is 3G ever going to be properly deployed in the country? Or will it forever remain in the shackles of PTCl2s EVO network? It seems like an annual ritual for GamesHT to include a rant about the technology’s no-show in Pakistan, and what we’re missing out on — year after year.

In case you’ve forgotten…

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 3G or third generation mobile telecommunications is a set of standards for mobile phones and mobile services. It is applicable to mobile internet, voice telephony, video calls and mobile TV. Compared to earlier generations of telecommunications standards (such as GPRS, EDGE etc), 3G technology promises faster internet speeds on-the-go.

The standard relevant to Pakistan is the CDMA2000 system, since EV-DO stems from this particular standard — the latest of which is EV-DO RevB. This technology has a whopping 9.3 megabits-per-second (MBits/sec) downlink speed, and Pakistan has the honor of being the first country to use the service commercially.

The good

  • Fast internet access on-the-go.
  • Upload and download speeds that were possible only in the wired world, can now be achieved on the mobile platform.
  • Mobile phone users can surf, download and make video calls at a minimum speed of 2Mbits/second.

The bad

  • Licensing 3G for mobile phones in Pakistan is still somewhere over the rainbow.
  • There are huge license fees involved in obtaining a part of the 3G spectrum. Hence, one major concern is the heavy initial cost in deploying a 3G network.
  • Most carriers will try to recover this installation cost. Thus, 3G technology might still be unaffordable for the average Pakistani internet user.

Annual progress report

This year, PTCL introduced the 3G EVO Tab — an Android 2.2 (Froyo) tablet, with an 800MHz processor, 5MP camera, and three, six or 12-month data plans. Currently, WorldCall remains the only other internet service provider to offer 3G services in Pakistan with their wireless broadband range. As we say every year, it’s high time Pakistan hopped on the 3G bandwagon like the rest of the world. On the other hand, some even say that it’s better to just skip 3G altogether, and directly adopt 4G technology. While 3G is a promising technology for mobile phone users, its price- tag could deter many users from adopting it — even when (rather, if) it is properly deployed in the country.

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