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3G/4G auction in Azad JammuGilgit-Baltistan comes to halt

The process for next generation mobile services (NGMS) 3G/4G spectrum in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) has come to a halt as Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has become dysfunctional with the exit of its chairman and member finance.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has rejected further extension to the former chairman and member finance of PTA and has directed that both the positions will be advertised afresh. The tenure of former chairman Ismail Shah completed on November 13, while former member finance Tariq Sultan completed his four-year term on Sep 26, 2017 in the authority.

With their exit, the PTA has become dysfunctional and the single member enforcement with acting charge cannot exercise administrative powers and can only run day-to-day affairs, official sources revealed to Business Recorder. Sources said that there is little or no chance of 3G/4G auction in the near future as the PTA has become dysfunctional being without any chairman and member finance in place.

The AJ&K and GB Council approved policy directives for 3G/4G in AJ&K and GB on August 17, 2017. After the approval of AJ&K/GB Council, the policy directive was issued to the PTA for the NGMS spectrum auction. For the calculation of base price and design of auction process for 3G/4G spectrum in AJK and GB, the PTA decided to hire consultant or consulting firm and sought expression of interest (EoI) by Sep 15, 2017, which was later delayed to Sep 29.

However, later PTA again sought EoI from interested consultants by October 19, 2017 and hence the auction process was delayed twice. The PTA had short-listed two consultants/consulting firms after technical evaluation for the calculation of base price and design of auction process for NGMS 3G/4G spectrum in AJ&K and GB in October 2017.

The short-listed applicants after technical evaluation were APPNEX Pvt Ltd and Optiwave Technologies Private Ltd. The above short-listed applicants will go into financial evaluation stage and the consultancy will be awarded based on the evaluation criteria as mentioned in the request for proposal (RFP). However about two months have been passed, but the PTA is yet to hire consultant for the job.

The consultant will be required to calculate the base price and design a transparent and competitive auction process for NGMS 3G/4G in AJK and GB. As finalized by the PTA and the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication in collaboration with the Frequency Allocation Board, the following frequency blocks for provision of NGMS spectrum auction in AJ&K and GB are suggested:-

a) Three blocks of 10 MHz each in 2100 MHz (Block A). i) 1920-1930/2110-2120 MHz (Block A). ii) 1930-1940/2120-2130 MHz (Block B). iii) 1940-1950/2130-2140 MHz (Block C). b) One block of 10MHz in 1800 MHz band. i) 1775-1785/1870-1880 MHZ. Only those operators who participate in the auction of 2100 MHz band can bid for 10MHz in 800 MHz band.

The consultant will carry out a comprehensive assessment study of AJK & GB telecom market in terms of uptake, profitability, competitiveness and consumer choice. The consultant will design an open, competitive, transparent auction process, mitigating chances of collusion among bidders and fulfilling policy objective of optimal outcome, while keeping in view the international best practices as suited to AJK & GB market.

The base price will be approved by the council on recommendations of Auction Supervisory Committee (ASC). While recommending the base price, the ASC might consider the consultant's recommendations in respect of base price. All existing telecom operators in Pakistan, AJ&K and GB will be eligible to participate in this auction. A new license for the provision of next generation mobile services will be issued to the successful bidders/auction winners. The tenure of license will be 15 years.

Source Business Recorder 2017



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