Telenor wins 850MHZ spectrum licence

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KARACHI / LAHORE / KARACHI: Telenor Pakistan Limited, an existing 3G mobile broadband internet service provider in the country, provisionally won a leftover spectrum licence on Wednesday.

According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Telenor was the only bidder for the spectrum auction, ‘Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS), and as per the rules defined for the auction, the company’s documents were found to be correct and complete.

Telenor runs its 3G services on 5-MHZ block on 2,100-MHZ band. The new licence would allocate it another 10-MHZ block on 850-MHZ band.

“In case where the auction is not required due to no-excess demand, the applicant that submits a pre-bid offer, supported by a correct pre-bid deposit, is awarded the amount of spectrum stated in their pre-bid deposit form,” stated the PTA in the information Memorandum for the award of 850MHZ spectrum: the Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) Award.

The PTA has yet to disclose the bid price for the spectrum.

The authority had set a base price for the auction at $395 million, 34% higher than the one set at $295 million for the previous successful spectrum auction held in 2014.

PTA had two leftover spectrum’s licences of different frequencies for NGMS.

Earlier, four firms including Mobilink, Telenor, World Call and Multinet had shown interest in buying the licence on sale.

An information session with the prospective bidders was held on May 23. “PTA completed this procedure in an open and transparent manner, in line with the policy directive of the Ministry of Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunication and rules of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA),” said PTA in a hand-out.

Meanwhile, Parvez Iftikhar, an ICT expert, said the receipt of single bid for the said spectrum did not surprise him. “It was expected, the bandwidth and frequency offered by PTA only suited Telenor,” he said.

He said the size of bandwidth available at its current network was not enough to cater to the needs of its fast-growing customer base.

“The spectrum on sale did not suit Mobilink because the company already has a larger bandwidth. It would soon start offering 4G services in the country with the completion of its on-going acquisition of Warid that has the 4G spectrum,” he said.

“As for the two other prospective bidders; World Call and Multinet, the base price for the auction was too expensive,” he remarked.

He further opined that Zong and Ufone did not participate in the process because the former already had an excessive bandwidth while the latter was facing financial constraints.

PTA had initiated the auction process for the allocation of one block of “10 MHz paired spectrum {824-834 (uplink), 869-879 MHz (downlink)} in 850 MHz band.

“The spectrum assignment will be technology neutral and usable for all Next Generation Mobile Services (including 3G/4G and advanced generations),” it said the other day.

The tenure of frequency assignment will be 15 years, according to PTA.

The government had tasked PTA to auction the licence before the outgoing fiscal year’s ends on June 30. The task was apparently given to overcome a revenue shortfall.

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