3G in Doldrums As Differences Between Chairman PTA and Member Tech Get Public

PTA-logoAfter the suspension of Member Finance of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority last week, we are hearing the news of serious conflicts between Chairman of Authority and Member Tech, leaving almost no chance for the auction of 3G to happen anytime soon as agreement of both was necessary for carrying out the auction.

Differences between Muhammad Farooq Awan, Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and Dr. Khawar Siddique Khokhar, Member Technical at Authority were first hinted when government appointed Mr. Awan as Chairman of PTA while overlooking Mr. Khawar Khokhar who was strong (and arguably the only) contestant for chairmanship of Authority.

The silent bureaucratic battle between Mr. Awan and Dr. Khokhar had been pumping since then, but it went bigger and uncontrollable when harsh words between two top executives were exchanged before media during a scheduled briefing at PTA headquarters on Friday.

It all started when PTA decided to brief media on Friday on developments regarding 3G and PTA’s plan for auctioning 3G spectrum before year end, since Daily Jang had claimed that 3G auction will get delayed for indefinite time since authority has failed to appoint the consultant for auction, a requirement laid by PPRA rules.

According to media men, who were present at the briefing on Friday, Dr. Khawar Khokhar publicly denied Chairman’s request to brief the media on 3G. Dr. Khokhar maintained that 3G committee is still in process of formulating the auction plan and hence it will be before time to brief the media about the proceedings.

It is said that harsh words were exchanged between Chairman PTA and Member Tech during this tussle that was worsen by media-men who were annoyed by authority’s mismanagement.

All this is happening at a time when authority is planning to auction 3G licenses amid opposition from cellular companies and under tough economic and law and order situation in the country.

Government of Pakistan and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority had claimed to auction 3G licenses before December 2012, for which they were to finalize consultant before October 15th, 2012. However, as reported by Daily Jang, it is said that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has failed to finalize the consultant for auctioning 3G licenses.

According to sources at PTA, a total of three applications were received by authority against its advertisement for appointment of consultant for carrying out 3G spectrum auction.

Sources familiar with the situation said that two applicants were excluded on technical grounds while third application didn’t meet merit limits laid by PTA.

Sources, who wanted not to be named, said that one company applying for consultant was from India and hence was overruled amid security clearance. Another applicant, from UK, was disqualified as it didn’t submit the processing fee required for evaluation.

Third applicant, which was fulfilling all the necessary prerequisites laid in PTA’s advertisement, wasn’t finalized as according to PEPRA rules there must be at least two contestants to win a project/bid.

Under such circumstances coupled with serious managerial conflicts at PTA, it appears that 3G auction will be delayed for several months again, which can eventually knock out all the chances of 3G coming to Pakistan.

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