PTA Renews Jazz Spectrum License after IHC Verdict

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has renewed the Jazz license, due for renewal since 2019, after the dismissal of a petition filed by Jazz and Telenor for the pricing of license renewal in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

According to the PTA spokesperson, the renewed license carries enhanced terms and conditions for coverage and quality of service, as established during the recent Pakistan spectrum auction. The license signing took place at PTA Headquarters on Monday.

The license is renewed at a price of $449.2 million, out of which Jazz has already paid $333.64 million on account of the license renewal fee and applicable markup. The government had approved the renewal of licenses of two mobile operators, i.e. Jazz and Telenor Pakistan at around $450 million each, while the third operator, CM Pak, had to pay $470 million.

Due to a stay order by IHC, the collection of the renewal fee from two telecom companies had been delayed.

PTA issued cellular licenses to two new cellular mobile operators, viz. Telenor Pakistan and Warid Telecom, on May 26, 2004, for a period of 15 years, under the Mobile Cellular Policy, 2004, on payment of $291 million after the auction. The cellular license of Paktel Limited, now China Mobile Pakistan (Zong), was also renewed by the PTA under the 2004 Policy on October 23, 2004, for a period of 15 years on payment of $291 million. These licenses were due for renewal on May 25, 2019, and October 22, 2019, respectively. In 2014, the government renewed the license of Ufone at $291 million.

On August 21, the IHC directed Telenor and Jazz for depositing 50 percent of the license renewal fee, i.e., around Rs. 36 billion each within two weeks as a guarantee. The operators had disagreed with the PTA’s decision on fixing the license renewal fee and also requested for grant of stay order to avoid service disruption in the country after August 21, 2019 — the date fixed by the PTA for renewal of licenses.

The court had directed both the operators to deposit half of the amount, i.e., 50 percent as a guarantee till the final decision on the appeal of both cellular operators.

The PTA had rejected mobile operators’ apprehensions relating to the price of license renewal 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.

PTA has won the legal battle following the IHC’s dismissal of the petitions for the pricing of license renewal filed against it by Jazz and Telenor.

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