This Man Made the Govt $2 Billion & Affected 40 Million Lives in 3 Years

According to mobile cellular policy of Pakistan, issued in January 2004, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority was supposed to auction 3G spectrum in the country soon after 2005.

Which, as we know today, didn’t happen.

PTA boasted about 3G and its auction for years but never was able to sell any spectrum for years. In fact, first formal attempt to hold 3G auction was made in early 2012 when an IM was issued, but it was soon cancelled.

Those who have worked closely with the regulator and the government would know the amount of effort required to get things approved in government departments. These bureaucratic procedures, SOPs and processes delayed the much wanted 3G auction for years.

It was not only bureaucracy that was causing the delay in 3G spectrum auction, operator’s unwillingness — for reasons that I can tell you in comments below if required — to spend money on spectrum and then network up-gradation was another major hurdle.

All in all, Pakistan faced humongous delays in 3G spectrum auction and mobile broadband remained a dream for Pakistanis for over a decade.

Fast forward to late 2013, Dr. Syed Ismail Shah was appointed the chairman of PTA and he was immediately tasked to complete the pending auction of 3G spectrum. And the rest is history.

It won’t be fair if we miss out a mention of Ms. Anusha Rehman, Minister of IT and Telecom, who played a key role in the 3G auction, but it was Dr. Ismail Shah who executed the entire process with perfection and provided maximum yield to the government.

For example, he — on his own — took the decision of splitting 10MHz band of 3G spectrum and making four 3G slots instead of 3 (two 10MHz slots and two 5MHz slots each). While he faced resistance from everyone, it was only his move that led Telenor to spend another $395 million on spectrum with-in 2 years of first spectrum.

He not only defied seemingly insurmountable odds and government’s procedural challenges but at the same time convinced cellular operators to invest in new technologies.

As a whole, Pakistan generated over $2 billion in pure revenue from the spectrum auction with-in just four years.

Further adding to the direct revenue, Pakistan was bestowed with mobile broadband on 3G and 4G networks, which is doing wonders today. If you taking it for granted, just recall the excitement with which we used to share screen-shots of 3G speed tests.

Pakistan grew to over 40 million broadband users with-in three years and it’s just the beginning. We already have countless success stories — Careem, Uber, Daraz to name a few — which were otherwise not possible without the broadband internet penetration that we have today.

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


  • یہ کیا سٹوری ہے بھائی، اوپر دھوکے بازی کی خبر نیچے تھری جی کی ؟؟؟؟؟

    • Once he was faculty member of CASE Islamabad, someone should look into how this institute operated/operates, their practices, about how private military officers study and taught in a private institute (so called trust) without permission and if they have been fair and transparent. Role of Dr. Mukhtar (HEC), Dr. Naqvi (ex- executive director HEC and now in LUMS) and many others can’t be ignored here.

      He might have earned for government but there is another chapter of ex-CASE faculty which should not be ignored in reference to CASE.

      • I saw him as associate dean of Iqra University, Islamabad and we had the best bunch of teachers under his supervision. So Its not all gloomy for his administrative record.

  • Government is considering Earning 1983 Million Dollars in 4 years a big success but no operator has paid it from his pocket. It is the end user who has either paid or will continue to pay this amount in form of taxes.

    • ^^ which is fine…..the dilemma in this country even though end users are wiling to pay but still they cant get what the want, electricity is a major example people are willing to pay but no power….Auto industry is an other people want to buy/pay, but still no cars, or have pay on top of the legit car price…Food, health, education and list goes on and on…..

      • People want to pay for electricity ? Seriously?

        2% of people pay electricity bill in FATA. Electricity theft in Karachi is common and considered a right, same is in Peshawar and Queeta.

        Electric Supply companies fail to collect billions from these thieves and most of them complain of load shedding as in their areas load shedding is maximum.

        In my area electricity bill payment is 100% and we dont see any load shedding.

        In case of cars you are right, their quality and price do not match. Quality is bad and they are over priced.

        • Most areas of RWP/ISB, the bill collection is 100%, but there is load-shedding of 4 – 6 hrs per day. There are some VIP areas where there is no loadshedding, which is certainly NOT due to 100% bill payment.

      • If they were willing to pay for electricity, they would have installed huge solar panels on their rooftops. Sometimes I feel like people of Pakistan deserve to be treated like that.

    • Its not the ransom money they paid to goons
      Its what called Utilization of the service and in return they pay. Thats a Rule, not a THUGS Life

    • same here was my teacher tooo
      ….very humble and passionate pakistani …real source of inspiration

  • Paise to aatey hain jaatey kahan hain pata nahi…
    Wese title parh ker mujhe aisa laga kisi ki bajne wali hai but ye to praising article hai title sahi kero yar!

  • Yea he screwed over and now Pakistanis are paying the price in terms of low speeds. where world looked 50 MHZ spectrum for operator he limited them to just 5 MHZ , so he basically killed all the goodness of 3g/4g in the first place.

  • The Icon has pioneered in digitalisation of Pakistan as speaker @ ITU/UN will bring country shine sparkle.

  • Instead of “Affected”, the word “Benefited” would’ve been more appropriate :)

    The word “affected” portrays as if it’s a negative story which is uncovering a hidden scam or a fraud.

  • Yes, the title seems to be conveying the meaning other way round… The title needs to be rephrased.

  • Its good to give him credit for 3G/4G. However on the other hand with 3G/4G jobs should have created however there has been a massive head cut in telecom sector and so many families effected by it. Who will take the credit for that?

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