Govt expects to fetch UP to $2b through 3g auction

ISLAMABAD  - Test use of much-awaited 3G spectrum service has been started in the country as three mobile phone operators (CMOs) made successful testing during the outgoing week on specified tower in various parts of the country.
Following the approval by Cabinet Division to Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) to commence test use of 3G spectrum in the country, good news for mobile phone users looking forward and waiting for 3G to be launched in Pakistan is that three out of total five CMOs had hard test their networks with 3G services during last week, and the test service would continue for one month. Similarly, telecom operators with effect to this trial service would be able to forecast the profitability of the service with some more certainty leading to minimise uncertainty. And, the free trial of 3G spectrums by mobile operators would be on non-commercial basis.
Well-informed sources told The Nation that three mobile phone operators had done successful testing of 3 G spectrum during the outgoing week. During the trial service of 3G spectrum, these CMOs had tested video quality and downloading speed. And, the CMOs would also test voice quality and connectivity of the service during the ongoing week.
With the trial and introduction of 3G spectrums, people in Pakistan would soon enjoy high speed internet, live TV and Skype calls on the go on their smart phones prior to the much-awaited auction of the spectrums which is likely to take place in near future this year.
The sources further informed that two out of total five CMOs had not taken interest in the trial service of 3G spectrum as three had started testing of 3G spectrum service during outgoing week beside expressing satisfaction over the quality as well.
A senior officer at Ministry of Telecommunication on the condition of anonymity confirmed the information and said that one mobile operator has installed 3G network on above 7,500 towers in various parts of the country.  “The Frequency Allocation Board has provided 3G frequency for one month test service to the mobile operators and they have started testing of their equipments and towers on new technology, “said the senior official.
Earlier, PTA took a decision to grant permission to all cellular mobile operators (CMOs) to use 3G spectrums on test basis and also wrote a letter to Frequency Allocation Board to endorse the decision prior to the much-delayed spectrum auction for next generation.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s government has planned to auction licences by April to run third-and fourth-generation mobile-phone networks, with both existing and new operators eligible to bid. The regulator plans to auction 30 megahertz of spectrum to new as well as existing operators that include Pakistan Mobile Communications Ltd’s Mobilink, Telenor ASA’s local subsidiary, Warid Telecom of Abu-Dhabi group, the Pakistan unit of China Mobile Ltd. and Ufone of Pakistan Telecommunication, partly-owned by Emirates Telecommunications Corp.
Sources in Ministry also said that price of bidding for the auction of 3G spectrum is expected to go up after the initiation of 3G spectrum test service by the CMOs of the country. They also said that it would enable the telecom regulator to attract international bidders especially because of controversial past of the auction process. The government has expected to fetch between $1.2 billion to $2 billion as a result of the spectrum auction. Interestingly, the regulator has so far not decided to determine the tariff either the market or the regulator will take decision about the tariff over use of 3G spectrum.
 However, the government should not compromise on quality and profit of the service. Even, the government hasn’t specified how to divide the available spectrum wither it would be three lots of 10 megahertz each or there would be different combinations.
It is worth mentioning here that the PTA after completing necessary rigorous process of evaluation of the technical and financial proposals of interested companies has so far selected Value Partners Management Consulting Limited a UK, US, Singapore and Madrid-based consortium as consultant to advise on the sale, including the base price and number of licences to be auctioned for a 15-year term. And, following the appointment of the consultant, 67 days were reportedly claimed by PTA officials for the announcement of winners of the spectrum auction.

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