Warid Telecom will invest USD400 million over the next year to deploy Long Term Evolution (LTE) services and aims to upgrade 70% of its urban networks to the new technology by the end of this year, the Express Tribune writes, citing an unnamed official. The cellco did not bid for 4G spectrum in the recent auction, but plans to use its existing technology neutral licence for frequencies in the 1800MHz band to provide LTE services. Sector watchdog the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) initially rebuffed Warid’s application to launch 4G services, citing concerns over the potential impact such a launch would have on the operator’s 2G users – the regulator has told Warid it will need to file a more detailed request before it will clear the path for 4G. The PTA has also reportedly come under pressure from Chinese-backed operator Zong, which paid USD210 million for its 4G concessions, whilst Warid’s parent company Abu Dhabi Group has tapped diplomatic channels to push for an early approval of the telco’s plans.
Warid will be technically ready to launch LTE by September and the cellco has suggested it will receive approval by the end of that month. The provider has achieved download speeds of 50Mbps during tests of the platform, although end users are expected to experience typical downlink speeds of around 6Mbps.