We are getting news that Government of Pakistan is planning to auction more spectrum for 3G and 4G services with-in next few months.
This intent, as we are told, picked up especially after Pakistan won Mobile Global Awards for successfully auctioning spectrum in 2014.
For the purpose, Anusha Rehman, Minister for State for Telecom and Information Technology, reportedly discussed the matter with international telecom players at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where she received the excellence award on behalf of Pakistan, to almost invite them for the upcoming spectrum auction in Pakistan.
Telecom operators, who are currently busy with SIM re-verification drive, were somewhat astonished by the development. Not that they didn’t expect this, but because they were burdened with SIM re-verification of 103 million SIMs with-in six months of their 3G roll-outs, they were hoping for some more time before government could auction any further spectrum.
According to PTA’s license term with 3G and 4G operators, government can auction unsold spectrum (one 10Mhz block in 2100Mhz and another 7.38Mhz in 850Mhz band) any time now. This unsold spectrum, if sold successfully, can bring the top dollar for the cash-starved government.
Naturally Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance, must be weighing all possible options to generate revenues for federation and auction of unsold spectrum is the going to be his best bet.
But, there are various other things that regulator and Ministry of IT will have to consider before auctioning the spectrum. For example to evaluate the market need, for which PTA is already in process of hiring consultants that will advise regulator on best time to auction the spectrum.
As per experts, one 4G block can be sold easily to top two players or to Warid as it has its LTE operations up and running (without any additional spectrum but) with quite successful reception.
It won’t be out of place to mention, that other than unsold spectrum from previous auction, PTA can not auction new 3G and 4G spectrum before October 2015.
With more than 10 million 3G subscribers with-in first six months of operations in Pakistan, the appetite is clearly there but considering low ARPUs (even during post-3G time), SIM re-verification campaign (that took four months of operators) and low uptake of 4G subscribers for Zong, another auction with-in next few months can be a gamble.
So here’s the multi-million dollar question:
Should Pakistan auction more 3G/4G spectrum with-in 2015 or not? Participate in below poll and comments to share your input and thoughts with us.