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April 30, 2021

Auction of 27.8Mhz 3G, 4G spectrum gets go-ahead

Business

April 30, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Advisory Committee of Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) under Chairmanship of Minister for Finance and Revenues Shaukat Tarin on Thursday approved auction of 27.8MHz available spectrum for 3 and 4G technologies.

There are two options available in spectrum including 15MHZ in 1800MHZ and remaining 12.8MHz in 2100MHz. The budget documents for 2020/21 showed that the government envisaged to raise Rs27 billion through auctioning of 3G/4G spectrum during the current fiscal year.

Official sources said the process of 5G services has not yet kick-started and it might take a couple of years because it requires a lot of spade work to transform the whole infrastructure of cellular mobile companies.

The spectrum of 1800MHz is used for 4G services so this remaining spectrum will be used for improving 4G services in Pakistan. All existing telecom players that will make efforts to win this upcoming spectrum auction are going to bring desired improvement in quality of 3G/4G services in the country. The improvement of 4G services is required immensely for providing data services in the country.

Tarin emphasised a level-playing field for all telecom companies to participate in the auction of additional radio frequencies. He directed the officials to expedite the sale process for the available spectrum. “All operators must have a fair and equal chance in the process,” the minister said while presiding over a meeting of the advisory committee for the release of next generation mobile services (NGMS) spectrum at the finance division.

Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz, Minister for IT and Telecommunication Amin ul Haque, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood and other senior officers participated in the meeting.

The finance minister urged all the key stakeholders to ensure maximum participation across the board for successful completion of the sale transaction.

Haque said the sale of NGMS is of key importance for strengthening and expanding communication / IT Services across the country.

Faraz said international benchmarks must be followed to ensure the whole process of sale is competitive and based on principles of transparency and equity.

Dawood said an in-depth analysis to gauge demand for spectrum and devise a strategy for its pricing and packaging accordingly.

After due deliberations, the advisory committee approved the recommendations for the sale of NGMS during the meeting.

The advisory committee was informed about the arrangements underway for the sale of available spectrum of next

generation mobile services in the country. A detailed presentation was made about the specifications of available spectrum bands and methodology for sale in line with international best practices. The newly hired consultants also gave a detailed input and answered the technical queries by the members of the committee.

The committee was tasked to evaluate the market assessment report and recommendations of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for release of maximum spectrum, finalise the policy directives for the release of spectrum and oversee the auction process.

The mobile data traffic in Pakistan increased over 400 percent to 1.75 gigabytes per user per month in 2018 from 0.34Gb/user/month in 2016. 5G test and trials have already been started in Pakistan and government identified 2600, 3500 MHz and millimeter wave bands for the trial purpose, according the PTA.

Mobile services continued to lead the sector by providing reliable and affordable connectivity. Mobile sector showed a steady growth in subscribers on its networks and increased subscriber base to 180 million, according to the PTA’s latest stats.