ISLAMABAD (web report):- The World Bank has recommended Pakistan’s policymakers balance implementing new specific Internet of Things (IoT) regulations with an environment that allows IoT innovation to thrive.

Official documents revealed that as Pakistan prepares for 5G deployment, policymakers must carefully balance IoT regulations with an environment that allows IoT innovation.

Overstepping regulatory intervention can stifle industry initiatives and erode consumer benefits. On the other hand a “do nothing” or a “wait and see” approach has the potential to create risks for public safety.

In relation to the spectrum needs and the spectrum road-map for 5G IoT in Pakistan, the World Bank recommends the following:

(1) Align regulatory framework with global and regional development. Given the global nature of 5G IoT device availability, it is in Pakistan’s interest to align itself, where possible, with global and regional developments. An optimal approach would be a regulatory framework that facilitates the development and growth of IoT and does not impose service or technological restrictions that could hold back innovation.

The European approach to IoT as articulated by the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) has merit given the above argument. Specifically, the RSPG concluded that:

  • As IoT is heterogeneous, there is no single solution for access to the spectrum that fits all these use cases since their technical requirements differ dramatically.
  • Frequencies allocated or identified for electronic communication services (mobile networks) may be used for emerging IoT applications and services including the 700, 800, 900, 2100, and 2600 MHz bands.

These views are arguably different from those of the GSMA which are advocating for:

  • Regulators should adopt a service/technology neutral framework to support cellular IoT services;
  • The licensed spectrum has the capacity and coverage capabilities to support IoT growth. Pakistan should not restrict the IoT spectrum and deployments solely to the mobile network operators (MNOs). Both IoT versions (MNO and stand-alone) should be allowed to co-exist. The MNOs already have significant advantages, if they make the requisite investments in the systems, then they will stake a strong if not unassailable market position.

(2) Use sub 1 GHz bands for IoT It is recommended that Pakistan utilizes the 700 MHz band for NarrowBand-Internet of Things (NB-IoT), post its release. The wide and deep coverage it can provide and the fact that the NB-IoT chipset fully supports it makes this band a viable candidate.

In Australia, the 700 MHz band has been instrumental in extending 4G coverage to regional and remote areas of Australia which would have been economically problematic to do so otherwise. Prior to the deployment of 700 MHz, Australia’s leading provider Telstra had networks covering approximately 85 percent of the population and 100,000 sq. km. Using this band with existing and new 4G sites helped push Telstra’s 4G coverage to over 99 percent of the population and over 1.6 million sq. km of Australia including NBIoT coverage.

In emerging markets such as the Philippines, the ability of 700 MHz to support NB-IoT/LTEM services is excellent given the improved coverage and lower costs. It is also important to emphasize that IoT encompasses a broader set of applications and use cases than those enabled by today’s mobile cellular networks.

New IoT use cases will be enabled by 5G since some specific IoT functionality will be designed into 5G from the start, with features including network slicing, low energy consumption, and scalability. As previously discussed, such factors may be addressed by including a requirement to support MNOs in relation to the 5G spectrum, including the 700 MHz band.

The documents further maintained that the current global view is that the IoT is rapidly transforming the way individuals, enterprises, and governments communicate and work. There will be a fundamental shift in lifestyles on the back of a large number of devices communicating with one another. This will collaboratively result in increased optimization and enhanced productivity. Its adoption by the agriculture sector including animal farming will be critical in the Pakistani context.

The IoT ecosystem involves the interaction of telecommunications services with a range of new services and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. IoT will enter every aspect of lives and cities, as well as support all industries. According to GSMA, the global IoT market will be worth $1.1 trillion in terms of revenue by 2025.

By that time, GSMA estimates that there will be over 25 billion IoT connections driven largely by growth in the industrial IoT market.

IoT first emerged in the 2G/3G network environment. However, the development of 4G LTE networks featuring advantages in spectral efficiency, latency, and data throughput provided the initial stimulus for widespread IoT deployment.

5G provides superior transmission speed and lower latency enabling greater capacity for connected devices. The capacity of 5G networks to carry more data faster will push significant growth in IoT applications. 5G provides a range of benefits to IoT, which are not available with 4G or other technologies. These include 5G’s ability to support a massive number of static and mobile IoT devices, which have a diverse range of speed, bandwidth, and quality of service requirements.

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