3G Seems Just On The Edge – Delayed Again!

The Federal cabinet could not get the high speed 3G agenda to completion due to shortage of time reports Daily Times. Excerpt below:

Due to the shortage of time and non-finalisation of summary, Federal Cabinet could not take up the issue of approval of the modalities for the auction of 3-G licences.

After the Cabinet meeting, Federal Minister for Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh informed a high level meeting Tuesday had taken some key decisions and has finalised some recommendations for taking the issue of auction of 3-G licenses forward.

He confirmed after the meeting, very short time was available for finalisation of the summery and due to this, issue could not be taken up at Federal Cabinet meeting. However, the minister was of the view government was committed to move forward quickly and complete the process within specified period.

Much has been said about 3G being available in Pakistan over past three years. Daily Times reports today that the Federal cabinet shall discuss on the 3G license modalities today which is the need of time for the government to meet the budget deficit for the current fiscal year.

Furthermore, the license auction shall also be open to international operators other than the current five operators.

The government of Pakistan is expected to invite international telecommunication players along with five local operators to take part in the open auction of 3-G licences, official sources informed here on Tuesday.

The government has two options under its consideration for auction of 3-G licences. The government under option number one will offer up to 10 Mhz frequency to telecommunication companies with licence and minimum $420 million and maximum $800 million revenue is expected to come through the auction.

Under the option number two, the government will offer frequency ranging between 20 Mhz and up to 35Mhz to telecom sector with licences through open bidding and minimum $749 million and $1.2 billion revenue is projected to come.

Official sources informed that a meeting held at the Ministry of Finance and chaired by the Federal Minister for Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh discussed the issue of auction of 3-G licences and considered the said options and decided to submit the recommendations of the meeting to the federal cabinet meeting, expected, today (Wednesday).

The federal cabinet in its meeting would be requested to approve the modalities of the auction of the 3-G licences with possible decision on any one option.

Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) is managing the frequency and some excess frequency is available with the FAB that would be allocated to the successful bidder – telecommunication companies with 3-G licences. The sources said that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) would be managing the affairs of the auction of 3-G licences.

Sources said that meeting held in the Ministry of Finance decided to go for open auctioning of the much awaited 3-G licencing to generate around Rs 60 billion receipts budgeted for the current fiscal year.

They said that the meeting thoroughly discussed the auctioning options, anticipated revenue and decided to move a summary to the cabinet.

The meeting was informed that Mobilink, Ufone, Telenor, Warid and Zong are five potential candidates for taking part in the bidding to buy excess frequency for running of 3-G service network. The meeting decided that access frequency would be bridged by 2013.

The Privatisation Commission representative present in the meeting was of the view that the government should also invite international telecommunication players in the auction of 3-G licenses not only to fetch maximum price as well as to make it more transparent and to eliminate any chance of post auction litigation by the international players.

The proposal has been pending for quite a long time and the government had estimated Rs 60 billion receipts in the last year but was not able to materialise it.

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