The Federal Cabinet is likely to approve the constitution of the Auction Advisory Committee including representatives from GHQ and ISI to oversee spectrum auction(s) for next-generation mobile services (NGMS) in Pakistan on Friday.
The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has already approved the constitution of the Auction Advisory Committee to oversee spectrum auction(s) for NGMS. The federal cabinet meeting is scheduled for Friday which would be chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
The Cabinet is likely to ratify the ECC decision regarding the constitution of the committee.
The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication had submitted a summary to the ECC for the constitution of the Auction Advisory Committee to oversee spectrum auction(s) for NGMS in Pakistan. The ECC meeting was chaired by Finance minister Miftah Ismail who considered and approved the summary.
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 COVID-19” which was later revised in March 2021 for inclusion of AJ&K and GB representative in Advisory Committee.
The Ministry of IT Telecommunication (MoIT&T) 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.
The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication stated that the spectrum auctions for NGMS in Pakistan were conducted in 2014, 2016, 2017 & 2021 under the Policy Directives issued by the Federal Government. Consequently paired spectrum of 30 MHz in the 1900/2100 MHz band, 29 MHz in the 1800 MHz band, and 10 MHz in the 850 MHz band were auctioned and assigned to the cellular mobile operators.
Subsequently, 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 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 & 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 open, transparent & competitive way.
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, the Ministry proposed that an Advisory Committee may be constituted with the following composition and Terms of Reference (ToRs):-
Federal Minister for Finance & Revenue (Chairman), Federal Minister for Information Technology & Telecommunication, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Division, Secretary, Finance Division, Secretary, IT & Telecom Division, Secretary, Law & Justice Division, Chairman, PTA, Executive Director, FAB, Representative of GHQ, Director General Tech — ISI, Member Legal MOIT, Member Telecom, MOIT&T (Committee Secretary) and any other person that Committee may wish to co-opt.
The terms of reference of the committee include; examining & evaluate the market assessment report, spectrum demand & supply and recommendations Of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for the release of available spectrum for Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) in Pakistan, to examine & finalize the Policy Directive for the Federal Government for the release of Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) spectrum in Pakistan, to oversee the spectrum auction/release process to be conducted by PTA.