Terrestrial SRD and IoT services: the PTA unveils its regulatory framework

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has released a “Regulatory Framework for Short Range Devices (SRDs) and Internet of Things (IoT) Terrestrial Services”.

The objective of this regulatory framework is to provide a regulatory guideline for the industry, to enable the development of the IoT ecosystem in Pakistan either through unlicensed/shared bands, which can be used for wide area networks at low power (LPWAN) on unconnected networks. based on interference and non-shielding, or via exclusively assigned/licensed frequency bands. However, the main focus of this framework is to specify the requirements and guidelines for the provision of IoT services in shared frequency bands.

The PTA will begin accepting class LPWAN license applications beginning March 31, 2022.

The LPWAN License Template, Application Forms and Application Requirements Checklist will be uploaded in due course.

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The SRD and IoT licensing framework for service provision is categorized according to the frequency bands involved for such service provision as shown below: i. Services Provided Through Licensed/Exclusively Assigned Spectrum Bands: This category includes Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) as well as other licensees who have an exclusive assignment of frequencies by PTA/FAB. ii. Services provided via shared frequency bands: It includes the following categories: a. Services provided through short-range device bands (SRD bands) and/or ultra-wideband (UWB). b. Services provided through shared bands for long-range IoT under the new LPWAN license category to be issued by PTA.

The following criteria shall be used for the provision of IoT Services: i. CMOs and other local access providers may provide IoT services via their exclusively assigned frequencies under the respective license terms and/or any other terms specified by the Authority from time to time. ii. Exclusive assignments for IoT in any other frequency band shall be handled on a case-by-case basis by PTA/FAB, a. To this end, the request for the allocation of a specific frequency channel/spot on the prescribed form must be submitted to the PTA to then be submitted to the FAB for processing in accordance with the procedure in force (in accordance with the scheme for granting RBS licensing or such other scheme as specified by the Authority from time to time).

However, applicants would be encouraged to consider the unlicensed band. iii. Mission-essential services shall be offered via frequency bands exclusively assigned/licensed under the terms and conditions of this license or such other determination/condition specified by the Authority from time to time.

The provision of IoT services via unlicensed frequency bands i. License-exempt category IoT, SRD and UWB devices using the shared spectrum bands identified in Appendices A and B will be license-exempt, subject to the following conditions: a. All devices in this category must comply with the limits/, parameters, permitted applications, general operating conditions, etc., as specified in Annexes A and B. b. All appliances in this category, as specified in Appendices A and B, must be type approved in accordance with Section 29 of the Act and type approval regulations issued by the Authority from time to time. vs. IoT, SRD and UWB devices must only be permitted on a “secondary, non-interference, non-shielded” basis and must not cause interference with other licensed radio communications services, and be able to tolerate any interference caused by other radio communication services, electrical or electronic equipment. D. Appliances shall not be constructed with an external or readily accessible control which permits adjustment of its operation in a manner which is inconsistent with the specifications and limits given in Appendices A and B. e. If IoT, SRD, and UWB devices are detected or reported as interfering with a core service, device operation should be stopped immediately. F. UWB applications with the potential to cause harmful interference in large scale deployments should be considered on a case by case basis. These applications must be forwarded to the FAB and after their approval, the type approval must be issued by the PTA.

The LPWAN license will be issued by PTA to applicants interested in providing IoT services through the LPWAN bands, and will be processed under the CVAS license regime with the following conditions: a. All licensees must comply with cell site clearance obligations in accordance with PTA/FAB Standard Operating Procedure.

In addition to the SOP for authorization of the BTS site, the licensee must follow the “Protection against Health Effects of Radio Base Station Aerials Regulations 2008” and its amendment when installing and operation of radio base station antennas. b. To provide the IoT-specific connectivity in a given service area (AoS), via the frequency bands, in strict compliance with the respective power limits as defined by the Authority from time to time. vs. Must use radio frequency on a secondary basis, i.e. networks operating in these bands must not cause interference with other authorized primary radio communication services. D. Shared / non-exclusive basis, that is, the holder of these networks will not request any protection against interference caused by current or future primary / secondary users and may tolerate any interference caused by other radiocommunication services, electrical or electronic equipment. e. In the event of interference with primary services in overlapping or adjacent bands, users of these secondary frequency bands shall discontinue use with immediate effect, upon instruction from the Authority f. Must cooperate with PTA and FAB to determine the cause of the interference and its resolution to protect the primary user(s) by all technical means to ensure interference-free coexistence. g. Must comply with any future update(s) to the frequency plan and related technical specifications as determined by PTA and FAB from time to time. h. Must transport generated backend traffic through the LPWAN network, to the cloud/internet, or to servers geographically separate from the LPWAN base station, via a PTA-licensed local service provider. I. The applicant must submit an application and pay the applicable fees.

The term of a license is five years, renewable for another period in accordance with federal government policy. J. FAB may review the frequency bands for IoT and related technical parameters from time to time, in light of international best practices, based on industry demand and adoption of these services and PTA/MoIT&T recommendations.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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