The deadlock between the government and mobile operators on telecom license renewal is going to persist as Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has approached Islamabad High Court (IHC) again, seeking an extension in the deadline, according to our sources.
The court has issued notices to other parties (mobile operators) for July 17, 2019, seeking their comments on PTA’s request for a deadline extension.
Earlier, the IHC had rejected a mobile operators’ petition, observing it to be a regulatory matter, and directed PTA to decide about license renewal applications on its own by July 15.
The court had observed that mobile companies are free to file their appeals after PTA’s decision on their applications for license renewal.
The cellular mobile licenses of Pakistan Mobile Communications Limited (ex-Warid/Jazz) and Telenor Pakistan Limited (Telenor) expired on May 25, 2019, and are due for renewal.
The license of China Mobile Pakistan (CMPak Zong) is due for renewal on October 22, 2019.
When licenses were not renewed on time, Jazz and Telenor had approached the IHC in May 2019 to decide on the terms of license renewal in an equitable, fair and transparent way.
Official sources said that mobile operators appeared before the PTA and presented arguments on their applications for license renewal. However, the final decision is yet to be taken.
During the hearing, the operators presented their arguments and pleaded for license renewal on the same terms and conditions, as well as other benchmarks like rollout obligations, on which the license of Ufone had been renewed in 2016.
“We are ready to pay $291 million (around Rs. 32 billion) i.e. the same price Ufone had paid in 2016 for its license renewal, which is now around Rs. 62 billion,” said a senior official of a cellular company on condition of anonymity who attended the hearing.
The official went on to say that the price of around $450 million, which PTA is hoping to get from operators for license renewal, is too much for them and the request was presented before the authority.
Senior PTA officials revealed that the government would renew licenses of mobile operators as per the government policy. They further said that operators can come anytime and get their licenses renewed by paying the government-approved fee along with due surcharge.