The deadlock between Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Mobile operators on quality of service and rollout obligations — the integral parts of license renewal – persists as the latter have linked it with the value of renewal fee of the license.
While renewing the license, PTA, while exercising its rights, telecom consumers’ interest and for the proper conduct of telecommunication services, has decided to enhance the quality of service and rollout targets in order to meet the parameters of quality of service so as to bring it in harmony with the international best practices.
Further, the telecom licenses are going to be technology-neutral; therefore, the licensees are entitled to deploy any latest technology for the provision of the licensed services.
Accordingly, the necessary changes in the terms of licenses were incorporated as shared with the licensees.
Official sources told ProPakistani that the licensees have raised various concerns on the terms and conditions dealing with enhanced quality of service and rollout obligations.
In this respect, the licensees’ persistent stance has been that the issue of quality of service and rollout obligations is dependent on the value of renewal fee of the licenses. This is mainly due to the fact that higher the license renewal fee, lesser the amount operators will be able to spend on infrastructure to meet minimum quality benchmarks.
Even in the recent meeting on this issue, the licensees reiterated their earlier stance that without the determination of the renewal fee, the terms and conditions pertaining to the quality of service and rollout obligations cannot be finalized.
Not to mention, PTA had rejected mobile operators’ apprehensions relating to the price of mobile license renewals and passed an order while fixing the fee for license renewal at $39.5 million per MHz for frequency spectrum of 900 MHz and $29.5 million per MHz for frequency spectrum of 1800 MHz. However, mobile operators have concerns over the cost.
PTA has directed operators to pay their license fee before August 21st, 2019 or their licenses will be termed expired and they will not be allowed to provide telecom services after the deadline.
Telcos to Get into Litigation
CEO of a mobile phone company, who wanted to remain unnamed, while speaking with ProPakistani said that his company will definitely move court against PTA’s decision on price and terms of the license renewals.
Another official of a mobile phone company said that PTA didn’t address telcos’ grievances as was directed by Islamabad High Court in its May 21st, 2019 order.
The official said that PTA was directed to discuss the issues with telecom operators and come up with an amicable solution, however, that didn’t happen as PTA didn’t change its stance on any issue.
If telcos go into litigation, the matter could linger on for another few months until a solution is found. Not to mention, telecom operators will continue to hold the license fee until then.