Telcos Decide to Move Court Seeking Clarity on License Renewal Policy

Jazz and Telenor have decided to approach the court of law to get a clarification on the upcoming license renewal terms.

For those who don’t know, Jazz’s license is due for renewal on May 25th, 2019, and if not renewed its operations will be impacted throughout the country. Same goes for Telenor as well, as its license is expiring around the same time.

We have received confirmation that both the operators are going to the High Court seeking protection of their license terms.

As per law, cellular mobile operators are issued licenses and spectrum for a term of 15 years. The law does not allow mobile phone companies to operate without such licenses and spectrum.

Warid’s spectrum, which is now part of Jazz, is due to expire later this month but the company has not received any clarity on how the license will be renewed and at what price.

Highly placed sources confirmed ProPakistani that the decision from mobile companies to approach the court was made to safeguard investors’ trust, as the government has turned a blind eye towards a very critical subject, which can essentially shut down the communication networks in the country.

It must be mentioned here that license renewal terms are supposed to be communicated to operators well ahead of the renewal dates. In fact, the process is normally started eighteen months in advance.

This early preparation is required due to the fact that licensing fee is in several hundred million dollars and operators must plan ahead of time to get mandatory approvals from their respective boards.

However with just a couple of weeks remaining, and several reminders to the government, telcos are still clueless on the government’s policy towards the license renewals.

A source from industry told ProPakistani that operators have serious concerns on the pricing of the spectrum, as the government has indicated to set spectrum price at $450 million for a term of 15 years.

Telcos say that they paid PKR 17 billion in 2004. However, they are now ready to pay almost 250% more, that is PKR 41 Billion as part of their commitments to the country.

However, any further revision in the price is not something they are willing to accept, particularly due to increased competition, a saturating market and other economic dynamics that have put pressure on every entity.

Officials, who spoke with ProPakistani on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that High Court will be moved immediately to seek information that’s critical for their decision making. They said that the company (both locally and at head office levels) has waited long enough for the government to formulate the policy but it seems they are not considering it important enough to be given time and attention.

Update

Telenor Pakistan confirmed us that they are going to high court for above reasons. They shared with us a statement given below:

Telenor Pakistan has been eagerly looking forward to the upcoming license renewal and actively engaged with multiple stakeholders in order to help with a mutually beneficial outcome.

 

According to the 2004 license conditions, Telenor Pakistan has the right to renew its licenses. During the last three years we have followed all requirements in order to renew our license on time.

 

The inexplicable delay in the process has created a lot of uncertainty and we believe it is not possible to meet the renewal deadline on the 25th of May.

 

Under these circumstances, we are looking to obtain an injunction from the Court in order to continue our services, and protect our customers.

 

In the meantime, we hope for a constructive and speedy resolution of the licensing renewal process, under the same terms and conditions as those afforded to state owned telecom operator in 2014, to ensure level playing field.

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


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