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ISLAMABAD: The government has approved the spectrum auction for the first time for Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, which would improve broadband and mobile services in the area, said Federal Minister for IT and Telecommunication Syed Aminul Haque.

Earlier, Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Raja Jalal Hussain Maqpoon called on Aminul Haque, here on Wednesday.

Talking to Business Recorder after the meeting, the spokesperson of the ministry of IT and Telecommunication said that policy directive has been issued to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for holding the spectrum auction.

The auction would be held by end September, the deadline given by the federal cabinet, said the official, adding that the PTA is likely to issue Information of Memorandum (IM) for the auction anytime soon.

He said the federal minister for IT and the governor Gilgit-Baltistan discussed matters related to broadband services, connectivity and spectrum auction during the meeting. Minister IT Gilgit-Baltistan Hussain Shah was also present.

During the meeting Haque said that under the Digital Pakistan vision no region including Gilgit-Baltistan will remain deprived of digitalisation. It is without any difference that all the provinces including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir have been incorporated in the projects of the Ministry of IT and Telecom, he added.

He said that it is for the first time that the spectrum auction gets approved for Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. Broadband and mobile services will improve in GB and Azad Kashmir due to additional spectrum auction, he added.

Haque said that the Universal Service Fund (USF) outreach will be extended to Gilgit-Baltistan by fulfilling all the legal requirements. Broadband services projects will be started on tourist points soon, he added.

He noted that Gilgit IT Park had played an important role in a very short time. Software technology parks will be inaugurated at Skardu, Baltistan, and Hunza, he said, adding the process for provision of telephone, internet and cable under triple bundle services in GB is in the final phase.

The federal minister said that smart policing project was extended to Gilgit-Baltistan and 60 percent work had already been completed on it.

Speaking on the occasion, Governor Gilgit-Baltistan Maqpoon said that steps being taken by the Ministry of IT for fulfilling Digital Pakistan vision are laudable. He said we want furthering of the role of IT and telecommunication in Gilgit-Baltistan. He hoped that the Ministry of IT’s projects will bring a technology revolution in the GB.

According to the policy directive for the auction of NGMS spectrum in AJK and GB, (a) A transparent, competitive process shall be formulated by the PTA for auctioning 2x16 MHz spectrum in the 1800 MHz band and 2x30 MHz spectrum in the 2100 MHz as made available by the FAB; (b) the base price for 2x1 MHz (1 MHz paired) spectrum in both I800 and 2100 MHz bands is $0.87 million, respectively; (c) additionally 2x10 MHz spectrum earmarked by FAB for SCO in both 1800 and 2100 MHz bands is approved for assignment to SCO; (d) the spectrum assignment will be “Technology Neutral” and usable for all existing and upcoming advanced generations technologies within the applicable policy framework of the government of Pakistan; (e) payment terms shall be minimum 50 percent upfront payment within one month of auction date while the remaining to be paid in 10 equal instalments in 10 years.

Moreover, if auction winner intends to pay the remaining balance liability on account of initial spectrum fee at any time before the end of 10 years, it would be acceptable and without any pre-payment penalties.

The PTA shall transfer auction proceeds to the AJK and GB Councils less the administrative charges, cost of regulation and consultancy charges within 30 days from the receipt of said fee. The tenure of frequency assignment will be for 15 years.

Spectrum won under auction process will be incorporated by the PTA in the renewed cellular licenses (due for renewal in June 2021 i.e. of Jazz, Telenor, and Ufone). However, in order to align the expiry dates of cellular licenses in AJ&K and GB, the tenure may be accordingly adjusted by the PTA for the CMP PAK license, which is due for expiry in August 2022 with necessary payments and adjustments.

Provisions for active infrastructure sharing, spectrum trading and sharing will be incorporated in the new licenses and will take effect as per the approved regulatory framework.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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