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GSMA decries hefty fees for renewing mobile spectrum licences

Top Story

May 23, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The GSMA has raised serious concerns over the hefty fees set by the government and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on operators renewing mobile spectrum licences in Pakistan, which it believes pose a significant risk to the mobile connectivity of millions of citizens.

The mobile industry association expressed it concerns in a letter to the PTA and Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) in a letter on Tuesday. On 25 May, the licences of two of the country’s largest mobile operators – Jazz and Telenor – are set to expire. Under the current conditions, operators are being asked to pay $450 million (Rs68.4 billion approx.) to renew their licences, which is more than double the dollar price at which operators originally acquired licences at auction in 2004, or discontinue operations, which would mean disconnecting millions of customers. A third operator, Zong is also due to renew its license this year.

The GSMA warns that the high fees proposed for renewing these licences will slow the development of Pakistan’s digital economy and seriously affect operators’ ability to invest and support affordable services. Brett Tarnutzer, Head of Spectrum, GSMA, said consumers will lose out from imposing unfair conditions that put operators’ businesses in jeopardy.

“We have already seen the damaging consequences that high spectrum prices have on coverage and quality of service in other countries. It’s important that Pakistan doesn’t repeat these mistakes, and place gaining inflated revenues from spectrum licences above the connectivity of its citizens,” he said.

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