PTA to auction 3G, 4G spectrum today

* Auction estimated to bring more than $1 billion investment to the country
ONLINE

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is all set to conduct the much-awaited spectrum auction today (Wednesday) for the award of licences of 3G and 4G.
The auction is expected to bring more than $1.3 billion investment to the country. “Based on the received sealed bid on April 14, it is now clear that the received demand is greater than the supply; therefore, the final auction will be conducted on April 23 (today), as planned,” PTA Chairman Ismail Shah said earlier. He added that the auction of 3G and 4G spectrum would be a landmark event in the country’s telecom history, as it would help raise the GDP growth, as the auction would also bring more than $1 billion investment to the country.
“The scheduled auction of 3G and 4G licences would be held with the help of Simultaneous Multiple Round Ascending Auction (SMRA) mechanism only to ensure secrecy and transparency in the sale,” a senior official at the PTA said. He added that all the four successful bidders/cellular mobile operators would be allotted different colours to participate in the auction process in a fair and transparent manner.
The Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) has finalised all arrangements for the spectrum auction for next generation mobile services (NGMS) to be held on 23rd April 2014, PTA statement said. The auction process will start at 8am. Bidders will be allowed to log into the auction system. The first round of bidding will start at 10am. There will be multiple rounds of bidding. The duration of each round will be at least 45 minutes or more. Results will be announced after each round on the PTA website (www.pta.gov.pk). The auction will take place using an electronic system, which will allow the bidders to participate in the auction. PTA has chosen the Simultaneous Multiple Round Ascending (SMRA) Auction mechanism. 
SMRA is the most preferred auctioning mechanism and is widely used in modern day auctions worldwide. It is also preferred over the traditional open cry out auctioning model as SMRA allows both auctioneer and bidder flexibility to simultaneously bid on lots of their choice, privacy and time to make educated decisions during the auction. Some of recent auctions conducted in United various countries were all SMRA based auctions.
It is to note here that though the government has failed to attract new entrant to participate in the auction beside the exit of one of the existing telecom operators from the competition, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) received bids from four existing Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) on April 14, 2014. After scrutiny of the bids submitted by CMOS as per the details, procedure, requirements and criteria laid down in the Information Memorandum (IM),  all four operators China Mobile(Zong), Mobilink, PTML (Ufone) and Telenor Pakistan have been declared as qualified bidders, while Warid did not participate in the bid due to unknown reasons.
Meanwhile, the Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Dr. Syed Ismail Shah on Tuesday held a meeting with Mr. Muneer Farooqui, CEO Warid Telecom in Pakistan. The meeting was held to discuss the reports of Warid Telecom launching 4G services without participating in Next Generation Mobile Services Award (NGMSA). It was clarified that Warid does not intend to immediately launch such service. Although the existing licence of Warid is technology neutral, it would properly seek PTA’s consent. PTA will look into such a request based on the licence conditions and in the best interest of the cellular industry at large and the bidders participating in the 3G/4G spectrum auction.
The PTA chairman said that offer of 4G/LTE services by the existing licencee will have to go through a process as per their licence as well as requirements of assuring proper coverage and quality of service, enhanced monitoring requirements and commencement permission by PTA. The Chairman also used this occasion to inform that auction of 23rd April 2014 will dispel all impression about lack of interest of bidders in 3G/4G spectrum. He also assured the CEO Warid Telecom that as a regulatory body they would continue supporting Warid Telecom a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Group which is one of the largest foreign investor in Pakistan.

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