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ISLAMABAD: The government is all set to hold spectrum auction by mid-May aimed at improving the quality of services and generate around one billion dollar of revenue, it is learnt.

Official sources revealed to Business Recorder that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has hired an international firm - Frontier Economics Ltd - as consultant for spectrum auction of 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands. The firm is expected to present its report to the Advisory Committee for the release of Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) to be presided over by the Finance Minister by end of the current month.

However, Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunications Syed Amin ul Haque told Business Recorder that the Advisory committee’s meeting was expected latest by the first week of April. The consultant firm would present its report to the committee where base price will be set for the spectrum auction.

When asked about the expected revenue from the auction, the minister said it would neither be too high nor low. Haque further said the utmost priority would be to ensure transparency, provide business friendly environment, attract investment and create jobs opportunities.

According to PTA, the objective of the consultancy is to devise a strategy for existing mobile cellular licence renewal and additional spectrum auction in 1800 & 2100 MHz bands in light of international best practices suited for telecom market with focus 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, targeting to achieve overall economic growth and incentivize 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 standardized block sizes.

Sources revealed that after presenting the initial findings to the Advisory Committee, consultations with the industry stakeholders would be done in April 2021. The spectrum auction is expected by mid-May 2021, sources added. The Finance Minister in an earlier meeting had urged the consultants to follow a proactive approach and meet the given deadlines effectively. He emphasized that the time was of essence in the release of NGMS Spectrum and the whole process of auction must be transparent for strengthening and expanding communications / IT Services across the country.

Replying to a question, an official said the renewal of licence of some telecom operators were still pending and was sub-judice in the court.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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