Govt auctions 3G, 4G licences for $1.1bn

* Successful bidders for 3G services are Ufone, Telenor, Mobilink and Zong * Zong also wins one of two licences available for 4G services
AFP

ISLAMABAD: The next generation mobile services have finally stepped into Pakistan with the auction of 3G and 4G spectra against approximately $1.1 billion as the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) announced successful bidders for the licences on Wednesday evening. 
According to PTA Chairman Dr Ismail Shah, the Chinese-controlled Zong has won the auction of 3G and 4G spectra as a sole winner while remaining three winners of the 3G spectrum auction are Mobilink, Telenor, and Ufone. 
The base price for much-awaited 3G licence was $295 million while it was $210 million for a 4G licence.
“For the 4G spectrum, the sole winner is Zong,” the PTA chairman said and added that the government has one more segment in 1,800 MHz (megahertz) bandwidth and one licence reserved for any new entrant, which would fetch additional income.
Dr Shah said that Zong and Mobilink each had won 10 MHZ bandwidth whereas Telenor and Ufone each have won 5 MHz bandwidth licences for 3G spectrum. 
With the auction of 3G and 4G licences, the PTA would earn $1.112 billion, including $902.11 million from the auction of 3G and $210 million from the auction of 4G spectrum licences.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Science and Technology Minister Zahid Hamid and State Minister for Telecommunications Anusha Rehman were present at the ceremony where successful bidders were announced. 
Speaking on the occasion, Dar said that the introduction of 3G and 4G spectra in the country’s telecom sector was expected to revolutionise the way subscribers stay connected.
“Pakistan has raised $903 million in the auction for 3G mobile networks while $210 million for the more advanced 4G spectrum as four cellular mobile phone operators (CMOs) have emerged as winner after a fair and transparent bidding process,” Dar said. He also congratulated the PTA and the Telecommunications Ministry over a fair and transparent auction.
State Minister Anusha Rehman also congratulated the PTA for holding successful auction and said that auction of 3G spectrum would not translate into the advent of 3G connectivity on mobile phones immediately, as timeframe agreed between the PTA and the CMOs for rolling out the 3G technology would be within six months after the conclusion of this auction.
Initially, services of 3G technology will be available in the federal capital and four provincial headquarters in the first phase while they will be available in other cities of each province at a later stage. 
The second phase envisions the expansion of 3G services to about 80 more cities of the country a year and a half after the auction while 90 percent of all tehsil headquarters will have access to 3G services in the third phase about four years from now.
Pakistan on Wednesday raised more than $1.1 billion in its long-delayed auction of next-generation telecommunications licences, snapped up by the country’s four existing mobile network providers.
The total is close to the $1.2 billion estimated for the sale in the federal budget for 2013-14 but below a bullish prediction of $2 billion made by Finance Minister Dar in January.
Pakistan has more than 132 million mobile phone subscribers but has lagged behind its neighbours in setting up 3G, which is now the norm in many countries and even Afghanistan, a far less developed western neighbour with a weaker economy and more fragile state, has had the technology since 2012.
A study by the United Kingdom-based Plum consultancy in August last year said that the 3G technology could boost Pakistan’s GDP by Rs 380 billion to Rs 1,180 billion ($3.8 billion to $11.8 billion) by 2020.
Up to 900,000 extra jobs could be created and between Rs 23 billion and Rs 70 billion additional tax revenue generated by 3G could be collected, the Plum report said. 

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