ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has so far decided 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 in this regard.
Sources aware of the development told The Nation that the regulatory authority (PTA) in its letter to Frequency Allocation Board has recommended granting permission for use of 3G-spectrum frequency on conditional basis to all CMOs prior to the much-delayed spectrum auction for next generation. And, if the board awards frequency on conditional basis to the mobile operators then all CMOs would be able to use the 3G spectrum for technical test for one month.
“The Frequency Allocation Board will provide 3G frequency for one month test service to the mobile operators and they will test their equipments, and towers on new technology, “a senior official at Ministry of Telecommunication said on the condition of not to be named, adding, “however, mobile phone operators will not use the 3G spectrum service for commercial purposes.”
The federal government had established FBA to take over the functions performed by the Pakistan Wireless Board. The FBA have exclusive authority to allocate and assign portions of the radio frequency spectrum to the government, providers of telecommunication services and telecommunication systems, radio and television broadcasting operations, public and private wireless operators and others. The board is comprised of Secretary, Ministry of Communications, who is its Chairman; One Executive Director appointed by the Federal Government, who shall be its Vice-Chairman while a nominee each of the Ministry of Defence (Corps of Signals), and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Ministry of Interior. The board (FBA) may, with the approval of the Federal Government, make regulations, for exercising its powers and performance of its business.
The sources also said that price of bidding for the auction of 3G spectrum is expected to go up after this test service by the CMOs of the country. 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.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s government has planned to auction licences by March 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.
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.