Auction of 3G spectrum licence
Govt to revise info memorandum after hiring consultant
* NA committee expresses reservations over auction for spectrum of 3G licence
By Ijaz Kakakhel
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Sub-Committee on Information Technology on Wednesday informed that the government is going to revise the information memorandum for auction of 3G spectrum licence once the process of hiring of International Consultant is finalised by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
Briefing the committee, PTA Chairman Dr Muhammad Yasin said the Information Memorandum will be revised after completion of the consultant process. The government has already considered the option of creating a group of local experts for auction of the 3G licence, but during a meeting with the prime minister it was decided to hire a consultant for this purpose, he maintained, but the committee questioned that who will determine that the group selected consists of real experts and not personal choice of the government.
Advocate Anusha Rehman Khan was the convener of the committee. The committee expressed serious reservations over the process of auction for spectrum of 3G licence. Ms Khan informed the participants several world models are available for Pakistan that have already done the 3G auction and Pakistan has to follow the best one in order to earn maximum revenue.
She said that UK model is the best one and the government of Pakistan has to follow it. In order to make the method of auction more transparent, three points - efficiency, competitiveness and revenue generation - should be kept in front. All these points were ensured in the UK while auction of 3G licence.
She also informed the committee that Pakistan has made an agreement with Etisalat during the privatisation of PTCL that no new licence will be issued by March 2013. So this sale and purchase agreement with Etisalat compelled the government to consider this agreement for new entrants. However, the Etisalat failed to fulfil its commitment made with the government of Pakistan and she regretted that why the government is stuck to the agreement signed with the Etisalat.
Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) Chairperson Ms Rahat kounain Hassan informed the committee that detailed information was not provided to her so as to present the CCP point of view over the transparency of the auction of 3G licence. She assured to provide detailed presentation over the process subject to the condition that detailed information was provided to her by the PTA. The committee again directed the PTA to provide detailed information regarding auction of 3G licence to provide presentation in the next meeting of the committee likely to be held on May 14.
The PTA chairman told the committee that after introduction of latest information technology policy issued on December 19, 2011 the government is going to revise its policy. Spectrum is a precious item and it required efficient use. “We are going to establish new terms of references.”
The PTA chairman further told the committee that for the sake of efficient use of spectrum, the government is using the word neutral technology (3G/4G/LTE etc) within the available space of spectrum. This is policy directive and widely used across the globe. The optimum use of spectrum means to generate more revenue for the government along with serving the people.
Speaking on the occasion, Telecom Ministry of Information Technology member Ismail Shah said that the government is going to offer three slots of spectrum and one of defunct licence of Instaphone. Any company that has the licence of Instaphone has to start function immediately and for three spectrum slots if new entrants remain successful, they can lay the equipment and system but commercially they can start function after June 2013. He said four new entrants (one for Instaphone and three slots of spectrum) can participate in the process of auction for 3G licence.