The recent meeting has resulted in the decision to auction the mobile telephony spectrum in June, as the consultant expresses confidence in Pakistan’s market potential.
In a meeting to discuss the release of the Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) spectrum held by the Finance Division on Thursday, the government was briefed by the consultant Frontier Economics.
According to national media agencies, the recommendations by the consultant were approved in the meeting. The future meetings would be between the consultant and the other stakeholders leading to significant progress in the next rounds.
The recent meeting was reportedly attended by Federal Minister for Science and Technology Senator Shibli Faraz, Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Amin ul Haque, adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, federal secretaries of relevant ministries, chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Executive Director of the Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) and other officers.
The consultant will forward the ‘information memorandum’ containing the details of procedures related to the auction in the next step.
The spectrum auction for the 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands is going to be held. According to media reports, there has been some friction between the government and the consultant on the base price for the spectrum auction, where Frontier Economics Ltd had recommended $30mn and $27.5mn as base prices for 1,800 and 2,100 MHz bands respectively, while PTA had suggested base price of $31mn and $29mn.
The committee was informed the current auction was focused on streamlining regulations for the investors and increasing the accessibility of mobile broadband throughout the country. This according to the government will have a great impact on the economic growth of Pakistan.
It is worth mentioning that according to UN reports, the mobile internet has increased the financial inclusion of many marginalized communities in Pakistan where the traditional services were nonexistent in the past, but through the internet and neo banks like Easypaisa, JazzCash, and SimSim, people now have financial access without having to go to the banks.
The consultant was reportedly confident of the country’s potential to gain growth due to increased spectrum and was of the view that the current cellular companies were eager to avail of these new facilities.
According to the Profit, however, the three telecom operators in the country have also challenged the 2019 ‘renewal of licenses’ base price, which was lower than the prices above.
Reportedly, one operator has recently challenged the Ministry of Information Technology’s (IT) directions in Sindh High Court when the authority had directed the operator to vacate the temporary allotment in 2,100 MHz bands.
According to Profit, the PTA has further failed to resolve the matter about 6.6 MHz bands temporary allotment of Zong, despite visible concerns of the telco stakeholders on the matter.
While taking stock of the situation, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin directed to expedite the sale process for the available spectrum. He stressed providing a level playing field so that all operators must have a fair and equal chance in the process.
He also emphasized maximum participation be ensured by the authorities across the board for successful completion of the sale transaction.