|China-Pakistan Fiber Optic Cable Route|
Fiber Optic Cables:
A 820-kilometer long China-Pakistan fiber optic cable has already been laid between the city of Rawalpindi, Pakistan in the south and the Khunjerab Pass, China in the north and operational since July, 2018.
By 2020, the 6,299 kilometers of underwater cables will extend to Djibouti from Gwadar and form the Digital Silk Route between Asia and Africa. At the same time, a space-based Silk Road will provide satellite navigation support to all BRI countries. The first Beidou base station of the Space Silk Road is already operational in Pakistan since 2017. BeiDou is making rapid progress with 30 BRI countries already linked up.
When completed, the ambitious global initiative would use an exclusive satellite navigation system, BeiDou, fiber networks and 5G on land and submarine cables to create a multi-dimensional digital mega-project across land, sea and space.
Huawei is already pushing for 5G deployment in Pakistan where it has already established a strong market presence. Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) has already identified spectrum in 2.6 GHz, 3.5 GHz and millimeter wave band it plans to allocate for auction to 5G vendors. This will include both fixed and mobile 5G deployment.
PTA has set up its 5G Working Group with members from telecom operators, vendors, manufacturers, Academia, R and D organizations, regulator (Pakistan Telecom Authority - PTA), Pakistan Government ministries and Frequency Allocation Board (FAB).
Over 65 million Pakistanis now subscribe to 3G and 4G services launched 5 years ago. 5G uptake rate in Pakistan is expected to be rapid. "Attractive tariffs for 5G users will be the key to encouraging a large number of customers" Mohammad Suhail, head of the Karachi based Topline Securities Investors' Advisory told Nikkei.
US vs China:
The Trump Administration sees China's aggressive 5G lead as a threat to the West's technology dominance. US government has been warning its allies against use Huawei's 5G equipment in their networks based on its fears of Chinese government espionage operations.
Chinese 5G suppliers currently hold 36% of all 5G patents worldwide. In spite of US efforts, Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE are beating their western rivals to acquire access to huge markets around the world in Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East.
China is aggressively pursuing its plans to build a global digital superhighway that runs through Pakistan. This "Digital Silk Road" involves laying fiber optic cables in Pakistan which connect with China to the north and link with Africa and the Arab World via undersea cable to be laid from Gwadar Deep Sea Port built as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). An 820 kilometer long China-Pakistan fiber optic cable has already been laid between Rawalpindi, Pakistan and the Khunjerab Pass, China. The global project will include 5G wireless networks deployment in BRI (Belt Road Initiative) member nations. Meanwhile, the United States is continuing its campaign to have its allies boycott 5G equipment built by China's Huawei.
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