The government on Tuesday approved the constitution of the Auction Advisory Committee to oversee spectrum auction(s) for next-generation mobile services (NGMS) in Pakistan.
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail presided over the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet where the summary submitted by the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) on the constitution of the Auction Advisory Committee was approved.
The committee will be headed by Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue. Federal Minister for Information Technology & Telecommunication, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Division, Federal Minister for Power, Federal Minister for Commerce, Secretary Finance Division, Secretary MoITT, Secretary Law & Justice Division, PTA Chairman, Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) Executive Director, representative of GHQ, Director-General Tech— ISI, Member Legal MolTT, and Member Telecom MolTT (Committee Secretary).
The summary moved by the MoITT mentioned that the spectrum auctions for Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) in Pakistan were conducted in 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2021 under the Policy Directives issued by the federal government. Consequently, the paired spectrum of 30 MHz in 1900/2100 MHz band, 29 MHz in 1800 MHz band, and 10 MHz in 850 MHz band were auctioned and assigned to the cellular mobile operators.
In October 2020, the Federal Government constituted an Advisory Committee on the “Release of Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) Spectrum in Pakistan for Improvement of Mobile Broadband Services amid COV1D-19” which was later revised in March 2021 for inclusion of AJ&K and GB representative in Advisory Committee.
The Ministry of IT & Telecommunication issued the Policy Directive on 4th August 2021 after the federal cabinet ratified the decision of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to approve the Committee’s policy recommendations. Subsequently, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) completed the spectrum auction process with the assistance of an internationally reputed consultant, Frontier Economics, in September 2021. Pak Telecom Mobile Limited (PTML/Ufone) acquired 2×9 MHz in the 1800 MHz band for 15 years while there was no bid for the offered spectrum in the 2100 MHz band.
For enhancement of capacity and improved quality of service, the federal government may issue a Policy Directive to undertake a spectrum auction under section 8(2) of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) Act 1996 to offer the available frequency bands to all interested new and existing operators in an open, transparent and competitive way.
The previous exercises for the release of the spectrum have been conducted through an auction under the oversight of an Advisory Committee constituted by the prime minister/ federal cabinet. On similar lines, it proposed that an Advisory Committee may be constituted with the below composition and Terms of Reference (ToRs):
- To examine and evaluate the market assessment report, spectrum demand and supply, and recommendations of PTA for the release of available spectrum for Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) in Pakistan.
- To examine and finalize the Policy Directives for the federal government for the release of the NGMS spectrum in Pakistan.
- To oversee the spectrum auction/release process to be conducted by the PTA.