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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Tuesday approved the constitution of an Auction Advisory Committee including representatives from the GHQ and the ISI to oversee spectrum auction(s) for the Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) in Pakistan.

The committee will be headed by the federal minister for finance and revenue. The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication had submitted a summary to the ECC for the constitution of an Auction Advisory Committee to oversee spectrum auction(s) for NGMS in Pakistan.

The ECC meeting chaired by Finance Minister Miftah Ismail considered and approved the summary.

The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication stated that the spectrum auctions for NGMS in Pakistan were conducted in 2014, 2016, 2017,and 2021 under the policy directives issued by the federal government. Consequently, paired spectrum of 30 MHz in 1900/2100 MHz band, 29 MHz in I800 MHz band and 10 MHz in 850 MHz band auctioned and assigned to the cellular mobile operators.

In October 2020, the federal government constituted an Advisory Committee on the “Release of NGMS Spectrum in Pakistan for improvement of Mobile Broadband Services amid Covid-19”, which was later revised in March 2021 for inclusion of the AJ&K and GB representative in the Advisory Committee.

The Ministry of IT Telecommunication (MoIT&T) issued the policy directive on 4th August 2021 after the Federal Cabinet ratified the decision or the ECC to approve the committee’s policy recommendations. Subsequently, the PTA completed the spectrum auction process with the assistance or an internationally reputed consultant, Frontier Economics, in September 2021. Pak Telecom Mobile Limited (PTML/Ufone) acquired 2x9 in 1800 MHz band for 15 years while there was no bid for the offered spectrum in 2100 MHz band.

For enhancement of capacity and improved quality of service, the federal government may issue a policy directive to undertake a spectrum auction under section 8(2) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act 1996 to offer the available frequency bands to all interested new and existing operators in open, transparent and competitive way.

‘Top Up spectrum’ Additional spectrum of 3G/4G to be auctioned

Previous exercises for the release of spectrum have been conducted through an auction under the oversight of an Advisory Committee constituted by the prime minister/federal cabinet. On similar lines, the ministry proposed that an Advisory Committee may be constituted with the following composition and Terms of Reference (ToRs):-Federal Minister for Finance & Revenue (Chairman), Federal Minister for Information Technology & Telecommunication, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Division, Secretary, Finance Division, Secretary, IT & Telecom Division, Secretary, Law & Justice Division, Chairman, PTA, Executive Director, FAB, Representative of GHQ, Director General Tech — ISI, Member Legal MOIT, Member Telecom, MOIT&T (Committee Secretary) and any other person that Committee may wish to co-opt.

The terms of reference of the committee include; to examine and evaluate the market assessment report, spectrum demand & supply and recommendations of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for the release of available spectrum for NGMS in Pakistan, to examine and finalise the policy directive for the Federal Government for the release of NGMS spectrum in Pakistan, to oversee the spectrum auction/release process to be conducted by the PTA. Accordingly, the ECC was requested to approve the proposal for the constitution of the committee. The ECC approved the summary.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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