HomeTechPTA drafts legal framework for short-range devices and terrestrial IoT services

PTA drafts legal framework for short-range devices and terrestrial IoT services

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has prepared a “Regulatory Framework for Short Range Devices (SRD) & Terrestrial Internet of Things (IoT) Services”.

The purpose of this regulatory framework is to provide a regulatory guidance for the industry, to enable the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem in Pakistan, either through unlicensed/shared bands, which can be used for Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) on a non-interference and non-protection basis, or over exclusively allocated/licensed frequency bands.

However, the focus of this framework is on elaborating the requirements and guidelines for the provision of IoT services in shared frequency bands.

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PTA will accept Class LPWAN license applications from March 31, 2022. LPWAN license template, application forms and application requirements checklist will be uploaded in due course.

The SRD and IoT licensing framework for services is classified according to the frequency bands used for such services, as listed below:

  1. Services provided over licensed/exclusively assigned frequency bands: This category includes mobile mobile operators (CMOs) and other such licensees who have exclusive assignment of frequencies by PTA/FAB.
  2. Services provided over shared frequency bands: It includes the following categories: Services provided over Short Range Devices-Bands (SRD bands) and/or Ultra Wide Bands (UWB). B. Services provided over shared bands for Long Range IoT under the new category of LPWAN license issued by PTA.

The following criteria are used for the delivery of IoT services:

IoT service delivery over licensed frequency bands
  1. CMOs and other Local Access Providers may provide IoT services on their exclusively assigned frequencies under the respective license terms and/or other terms specified by the Authority from time to time.
  2. Exclusive allocation(s) for IoT in a different frequency band, will be handled by PTA/FAB on a case-by-case basis, To do this, a request for allocation of a specific frequency channel/spot must be submitted on the prescribed form to PTA for further submission to FAB for processing in accordance with the procedure in use (in accordance with the RBS licensing regime or any other regime as specified by the Authority from time to time). However, applicants would be encouraged to consider the unlicensed band.
  3. Mission Critical Services are provided on exclusively assigned/licensed frequency bands under the terms of such license or such other term/conditions as specified from time to time by the Authority.
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IoT service delivery over unlicensed frequency bands i. License-exempt devices for IoT, SRD and UWB category using the shared spectrum bands identified in Annexes A and B are exempt from licensing subject to the following conditions:

  1. All devices in this category must comply with limits, parameters, permitted applications, general operating conditions, etc. as specified in Appendix A & B.
  2. All devices under this category as specified in Annexes A & B must require type approval in accordance with Section 29 of the Act and type approval regulations issued by the Authority from time to time.
  3. The IoT, SRD and UWB devices are allowed only on a “secondary, non-interference, non-protection” basis and must not cause interference with other authorized radio communication services and may tolerate interference caused by other radio communication services , electrical or electronic equipment.
  4. The devices must not be constructed with an external or easily accessible control that makes it possible to adjust its operation in a way that does not comply with the specifications and limits stated in Annexes A and B.
  5. If IoT, SRD, and UWB devices are found or reported as interfering with a primary service, the device must be stopped from operation immediately.
  6. UWB applications that may cause harmful interference, in the case of widespread deployments, should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Such applications are forwarded to FAB and after their approval, the type approval is granted by PTA.
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IoT services over LPWAN license category

The LPWAN license is issued by PTA to applicants interested in providing IoT services over LPWAN bands, and is covered under the CVAS licensing regime with the following terms:

  1. All licensees must comply with cell site clearance obligations under the PTA/FAB Standard Operating Procedure. In addition to the BTS site clearance SOP, the licensee must follow the “Protection against health-related effects of radio base station antennas 2008” and its amendment, when installing and operating radio base station antennas.
  2. Provide the IoT-specific connectivity in a particular service area (AoS), through the frequency bands, with strict adherence to the respective power limits defined by the Authority from time to time.
  3. Uses radio frequency on a secondary basis, ie the networks operating in these bands should not interfere with other authorized primary radio communications services.
  4. Shared/non-exclusive basis ie the licensee of these networks will not claim protection against interference caused by the current or future primary/secondary users and be able to tolerate interference caused by other radio communications services, electrical or electronic equipment.
  5. In the event of interference with primary services in the overlapping or adjacent bands, the users of such secondary frequency bands shall cease use with immediate effect at the direction of the Authority
  6. Will work with PTA and FAB in determining the cause of interference and resolving it to protect the primary user(s) by all technical means to ensure interference-free coexistence.
  7. Will comply with any future update(s) to the frequency plan and associated technical specifications as determined from time to time by PTA and FAB.
  8. Will transport the backend traffic generated over the LPWAN network, to the cloud/internet or to servers that are geographically separated from the LPWAN base station, through a PTA licensed Local Access Provider.
  9. The applicant must apply for and pay the applicable fees. The duration of a license is five (05) years, renewable for another term in accordance with federal government policy.
  10. FAB may revise the frequency bands for IoT and related technical parameters from time to time in light of international best practices, based on industry demand and use of such services and recommendations from PTA/MoIT&T.
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Terms and Conditions
  1. The devices (sensors, actuators, aggregators, devices, etc.), used in the deployment of a network, must comply with the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines for limiting exposure to the time-varying electric, magnetic, and electromagnetic fields.
  2. The terminal equipment must be able to be reset to factory settings.
  3. The applicant shall follow the type-approval requirements issued by the Authority from time to time.
  4. The numbering range is used according to the national numbering plan. “Number Assignment and Administration Rules, 2018 apply, including changes/amendments made by the Authority from time to time. However, the requirements, based on the adoption and growth of IoT applications, will be reviewed by the Authority from time to time.
  5. Appropriate IP addressing is allowed, but migration to IPv6 is strongly encouraged.
  6. The licensees providing the IoT services must comply with all applicable, existing or future laws, regulations and requirements issued by PTA or other authorities related to data governance, including security, privacy, retention and protection of data.
  7. Licensees must abide by all PTA regulations, decisions, guidelines and instructions issued by the Authority from time to time.

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