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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) re-initiated the process for cellular license renewal and additional spectrum auction in 1800 and 2100 MHz bands in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), after not a single consultant qualified the laid down criteria for consultancy.

The Authority had decided to hire consultant(s)/consulting firm(s) for cellular license renewal and additional spectrum auction in AJK and G-B and had invited Expression of Interest (EOI) from local (Pakistan, AJK and G-B) consultant(s)/consulting firm(s) who are on the Active Taxpayers List of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Pakistan.

The PTA had extended the deadline for hiring consultants/consulting firms for cellular license renewal and additional spectrum auction in 1800 and 2100 MHz bands in AJK and G-B. The PTA had set deadline of October 20, 2020 for submission of bids for hiring consultant for spectrum auction in AJK and G-B which was also extended to November 5, 2020.

However, not a single consultant qualified the PTA’s laid down criteria for consultancy. Now the PTA has re-invited EOI from local (Pakistan, AJK and G-B) consultant(s)/consulting firm(s) who are on the Active Taxpayers List of the FBR, Pakistan for cellular license renewal and additional spectrum auction. The consultant(s)/consulting firm(s) will carry out the assignment in light of the detailed Request for Proposal (RFP), which includes but not limited to: (a) Cellular License Renewal; (b) Additional Spectrum Auction; and (c) Spectrum Rationalization Plan.

The objective of the consultancy is to devise a strategy for existing Mobile Cellular License Renewal; and Additional Spectrum Auction in 1800 and 2100 MHz bands in the light of international best practices suited for the AJK and G-B’s telecom market; focused on regulatory consistency for the investors, mobile broadband proliferation and future sustainability of cellular sector with an overall economic growth of region. Further, the consultancy is aimed at spectrum pricing benchmarks for renewal and auction with the future projections of next 3x years, targeting to achieve overall economic growth and incentivise foreign investment, considering impact of past benchmarks and other relevant factors.

One of the objectives is also Spectrum Rationalization/Re-adjustment Plan with an objective to maximise efficient spectrum utilisation in line with international best practices for assigned spectrum.

The aim will be to assign spectrum in a manner to make block size of contiguous frequencies by re-farming existing assignments to make standardised block sizes.

Further transparent and competitive spectrum auction plan with an optimal outcome, promoting mobile broadband proliferation, growth of cellular services and preventing collusion among the bidders is required as per the consultancy assignment.

The strategic vision of the PTA is to create a fair regulatory regime to promote investment, encourage competition, protect consumer interest and ensure high quality Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services.

The scope of work will include the following: (a) conduct study/assessment of the available/assigned spectrum in 900, 1800, and 2100 MHz in the AJK and G-B; international best practice on spectrum auctions/renewals and assignments keeping in view the aspects; (b) Consultation with relevant stakeholders including Cellular Mobile Operators, relevant governments and Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) HQs to assess the telecom market; its regulatory, financial and technical opportunities/challenges as specified.

Further, it will require the development of Policy Recommendations for Cellular License Renewal and Spectrum Auction Methodology comprising terms and conditions of licenses to be renewed; auction design, spectrum base price, rationalization plan and any other relevant terms and conditions.

d) Development of Information Memorandum including license template and assist in conducting spectrum auction as per agreed auction design. The specific deliverables as per the timelines mentioned in contract agreement i.e. (i) A report on existing Cellular Sector Analysis with focus on spectrum assignments. Report will include recommendations for Cellular License renewal, possibility of new entrant, spectrum auction and rationalization along with timelines for auction based on international best practices and stakeholder consultation applying technical, commercial and due legal diligence.

(ii) A report on spectrum valuation of 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz band with future projections of 3x years. The determination of prices shall be done under strict confidence and shall be provided in sealed envelopes to the client.

(iii) A report on auction methodology design and process for the spectrum assignment.

(iv) Prepare Policy Recommendations (comprising of renewal terms and conditions, spectrum blocks for auction, base price, auction design, spectrum capping, spectrum floor, spectrum rationalisation plan, duration of assignment, QoS, coverage, payment terms, auction participants and other relevant terms and conditions).

(v) Prepare Information Memorandum along with license template including information mentioned at (iv) above and detailed auction design methodology, round increments, earnest money; Assist the Authority in developing and issuing necessary clarification as and when required to the potential bidders; prepare bid documents and other relevant documents ancillary to the auction process. The consultant(s)/consulting firm(s) will carry out the assignment in accordance with RFP document.

Consultant(s)/consulting firm(s) will be required to have relevant technical, financial, legal and regulatory expertise to successfully carry out the assignment.

Method of selection will be quality and cost based, interested consultant(s)/consulting firm(s) shall submit proposal for consultancy marked as “Cellular License Renewal and Additional Spectrum Auction in AJ&K and G-B” complete in all respects as per the parameters laid down in the RFP.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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