Government Yet to Decide Anything on 3G

Government of Pakistan hasn’t decided anything regarding the auction of 3G licenses, as it appears that IT Ministry is yet to finalize 3G policy, it’s proposals, procedures and modalities for auction of 3G licensees in the country.

In a follow up of an earlier meeting on the up-gradation of telecom sector of the country, President Asif Ali Zardari yesterday directed a committee that another meeting be held after the IT Ministry had finalized its proposals in consultation with other relevant ministries and departments.

Officials close to the development told ProPakistani that government is confused over 3G auction. On one hand it wants to generate money by auctioning licenses while on other hands it’s cuffed by Etisalat and reluctant cellular operators – who don’t want invest into 3G.

Sources say that government is likely to take a definitive decision in next few weeks. Though they were unclear on what that decision would be.

Background:

Government’s seriousness about 3G auction first surfaced in July this year, shortly after annual budget, when it was sensed that government is desperate to auction 3G licenses to make at least Rs. 75 billion to fill current year’s budget deficit.

Things then got delayed due to incomplete deliberation on 3G policy. However, it appeared that government was in the direction of auctioning 3G license, in fact, a government official told press that Pakistan is set to auction 3G licenses by October 2011 at most.

Meanwhile contradicting statements from government officials have consistently confused the industry and press alike. Few said that Etisalat is the main hurdle in 3G license auction as government of Pakistan had agreed with Etisalat (when it sold 26 percent shares of PTCL) to not to auction any telecom license for any spectrum for seven years, which would end in March 2013.

While others said that Etisalat is not a hurdle and 3G license’s will be auctioned later this year.

During the while, government has reportedly prepared a backup plan for generating money by taking control of Rs. 60 billion lying in USF and R&D fund accounts, just in case if 3G license auction gets impossible.

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK