Pakistan 3G auction said to be in limbo

Dylan Bushell-Embling
19 Sep 2011
Daily News

Overdue plans for a 3G auction in Pakistan are being held up by a lack of consent among officials over the terms, sources claim.

Regulator Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) plans to make 35MHz of 3G spectrum available in an auction this year. But the process is stalled due to issues surrounding just who will get to bid, a source toldPakistan Today.

The PTA has recommended making two lots of 10 MHz available to incumbent operators, leaving 15 MHz for an international player with LTE expertise.

But the government has not yet decided whether to make the bidding open or available only to incumbents, and according to the source is unsure even how to move towards reaching a decision.

The government reportedly hopes to raise $300 million for each of the three 3G licenses allocated, but the source suggested that this figure was arrived at due to ignorance of the spectrum's true value.

Pakistan had originally planned to distribute 3G licenses in 2007, but incumbent operators resisted the plans because they wanted to recover their 2G investment costs before buying new infrastructure.

But slowing subscriber growth and shrinking ARPU have since led network investment costs to dwindle, while the government has long been exploring ways – including a universal service fund - to improve the nation's low broadband penetration.

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