Sindh High Court has restrained the federal government from issuing Long Distance and International (LDI) licences under the obsolete telecom policy till further orders.
Justice Nadeem Akhtar, who headed the bench, passed the stay order on a private telephone operator’s petition challenging the notification issued by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for issuing LDI licences under the expired policy.
It maybe recalled that Telecom Policy was formulated in 2003 and was to be renewed after every five years, however, the policy is still not renewed since it got expired in 2008.
Telecom policy is a document that sets various standards regarding telecom services, including the fee of various licenses and spectrums.
The petitioners, Telecard Limited, Redtone Telecommunications and Multinet Pakistan, filed plea against Ministry of Information Technology secretary and the PTA, saying the PTA is set to auction new LDI licenses based on expired policy.
As per this expired policy, anybody – that meets certain criteria – could obtain LDI licenses on payment of the prescribed fee of $500,000.
Petitioners said that this fee is dirt low as per current market standards and hence government should be restrained from issuing new LDI licenses based on expired and out-dated policy and rates.
It merits mentioning here that ministry of information and technology was going to issue LDI licences to CMPak as it has issued a notification in this regard on November 12, 2013.
Petitioners added that the valuable asset of the country was being sold at throwaway prices which could cause billions of losses to the telecom sector.
The court was pleaded to declare the notification illegal and direct respondents to formulate new deregulating policy for telecom sector.
The bench restrained the federal government from issuing LDI licences under the old telecom policy as well as issued notice to respondents to file their comments by December 17.
This stay order will blow CMPak’s efforts to obtain new LDI license, for which it was struggling since its inception in 2007.
CMPak, the only cellular operator without LDI license, was earlier denied LDI license in 2007 due to Government of Pakistan’s agreement with Etisalat, according to which Pakistan could not issue any new telecom licenses till March 2013.
Via Express Tribune