Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Thursday declared Telenor Pakistan as winner of its 850MHz spectrum (3G/4G) auction with base price of $395 million. PTA announced the auction of 10MHz block in 850MHz band at abase price of $395 million, for which only one operator (Telenor Pakistan) had submitted its bid. The deadline for submission of applications was June 1 2016. Only Telenor submitted application. The government had budgeted Rs 65 billion from the auction of two licenses of 3G and 4G for the outgoing financial year.
However, later government revised it to Rs 45 billion, while deciding to go for single frequency spectrum auction in the 850 MHz band with base price of $395 million. One license (4G) remained unsold and the government has budgeted Rs 75 billion for the upcoming financial year from its auction.
Addressing a joint press conference with Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunication Anusha Rehman, Chairman PTA Ismail Shah said that the application of Telenor was evaluated in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Information Memorandum (IM) and was found complete in all respects. The applicant has been notified accordingly, said Chairman, adding that since only one applicant, Telenor, had applied, NGMS spectrum in 850 MHz band ie UL: 824 – 834 MHz/DL: 869 – 879 MHz will be awarded on base price of $395 million in accordance with the schedule given in the IM. The license will be awarded to Telenor within 30 days of payment, he added.
With winning spectrum in 850 MHz, Telenor Pakistan will have 10MHz of spectrum in 850MHz band with which it will be able to launch 4G services in Pakistan to become third 4G operators in the country as this band is technology neutral. Anusha Rehman said the spectrum auction would bring more investment in terms of infrastructure development, besides creating jobs. After the spectrum auction in 2014, a revolution has been observed in the Telecom Sector of the country, said the Minister, reiterating the resolve to maintain focus on accelerated digitisation through proliferation of broadband, auction of frequency spectrum will be a regular feature of Telecom Sector activity.
Revenues of Telecom Sector during July 2015 to March 2016 are estimated at Rs 333.2 billion. Total teledensity reached 70.4 per cent at the end of March, 2016 compared to 62.8 per cent at the end of last fiscal year, showing an increase of 12.1 per cent during first three quarters of fiscal year 2016.
She said the auction of spectrum fetched $1.2 billion for national exchequer in 2014. In addition, around $1.3 billion worth of investments are being made in rolling out of 3G/4G networks and infrastructure. Anusha Rehman said introduction of mobile broadband has contributed a lot in connecting people and increased internet penetration in the country from mere 3 per cent to 18 per cent in a short period. Availability of these technologies have resulted in speedy proliferation of broadband access both in urban and rural communities with a record achievement of more than 30 million subscribers in less than 2 years.
She said IT exports and services have increased by 41 per cent since 2013 by just reorganising the processes. Pakistan is now at number four in the world when it comes to free-lancing. This achievement is very encouraging which remained unknown to most in the public domain. Anusha Rehman said that IT sector has potential to contribute 1.5 per cent in the GDP. She said that broadband penetration would touch 38 per cent by 2018 which currently stands at 18 per cent, higher than India and Bangladesh.