The Pakistani government is likely to invite bids from foreign as well as domestic telecom players in a long-awaited 3G auction.
Government officials said cabinet is getting close to deciding on the terms of a 3G license issue, Daily Timesreported.
A cabinet meeting had been scheduled to take up the issue yesterday, but has been postponed due to a subcommittee's delays finalizing the two options on the table.
These would be a 10MHz allocation at a price of between $420 million and $800 million, or a larger open auction of between 20Mhz and 35MHz of bandwidth to raise up to $1.2 billion.
The finance ministry is believed to prefer an open auction process on the belief it will raise more funds.
Local operators Mobilink, Ufone, Telenor Pakistan, Warid and Zong have been named as five potential candidates, Daily Times said, but government officials have indicated they may well seek international interest as well.
Telenor Pakistan's chief last year complained publicly about the market being too crowded with five mobile operators, so the prospect of new competition may not be welcomed.
For Pakistan, a 3G auction has been a long time coming. It has been proposed for years, but red tape has long held up the process.