Pakistan to have 3G auction within 3 months

Melissa Chua
23 Dec 2011

Pakistan’s Telecommunication Authority (PTA) will need to hold the country’s long-awaited 3G license auctions within the next three months, according to a directive from the country’s IT ministry.

The IT ministry has created a committee consisting of several of the country’s ministers and officials, including the PTA chairman and executive director of the country’s frequency allocation board, to supervise the auction process. PTA officials have told the Express Tribune that the PTA will soon be inviting bids.

Three blocks of 10MHz of 3G spectrum, available to both new and existing telecommunications providers, are expected to be up for bidding.

The country’s prime minister had last month grantedhis approval to the proposed 3G policy terms which allow foreign participation in the upcoming auctions.

It is still unclear how the authorities intend to overcome a legal barrier that bars new players from commencing operations until March 2013, when a moratorium on the issue of new telecom licenses lapses. The moratorium was formed in 2006 when a controlling stake in the state-owned Pakistan Telecommunications Company was sold to Etisalat.

One workaround includes auctioning the license that belonged to the now-defunct Instaphone, as spectrum awarded to Instaphone need not be classified as a new issuance, according to the Express Tribune.

The country’s last spectrum auctions generated $291 million for the government, when licenses were awarded to Warid Telecom and the Telenor Group.

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