Telecom operators — and parts of press — expressed concerns over the government’s decision for changing the conditions for auctioning an additional 3G/4G spectrum.
Operators say that it is unacceptable if the government changes the auction terms and conditions to favor one company, the Telenor. The government should provide equal opportunities to all companies, they opine.
An official of a telecom company, while talking to ProPakistani, said that different standards for one company and different for another are not acceptable in any case. He said that all the telecom companies have renewed their licenses recently, so if the government relaxes the license period and fee for one company, other companies will request similar relief from the government.
Not to mention, government decided to lease spectrum for 10 years, instead of usual 15 years term at pro rata, and hence lower amount of fee attached to it.
The telecom company official said anything like relaxing the terms and conditions could affect the auction of additional spectrum. If the government tries to give relief to one company, other companies will come up with a plan. He said that other operators will take every legal way against this move.
According to the Ministry of IT and Telecom (MoITT), the 3G/4G additional spectrum auction shall be conducted in accordance with the Telecommunication Act 1996. Nothing will be against the law, minutes of the meeting of the auction advisory committee will be issued soon.
The Auction Advisory Committee meeting was held on 3rd August under the chairmanship of Federal Finance Minister Miftah Ismail. The Committee decided to conduct an auction on 3G/4G additional spectrum for the period of 10 years by relaxing terms and conditions.
The Other View:
While the operators are speculating that government is joining hands with Telenor, industry experts said that every spectrum auction — during past 10 years — favored one operator or the other. For instance, in one spectrum auction, Ufone seemed to have government backing, while Jazz was seemingly favored in another auction. Some say Zong was favored in 2014 auction.
Industry experts said that government had experimented in the past to favor the operators, for instance a 10MHz block was divided into two 5MHz blocks to reduce the fee of spectrum for operators. And it worked for the industry, and consumers were ultimate beneficiaries as they were able to enjoy next gen services — maybe with lower-then-optimum quality of services, as compared to no 3G/4G services at all.
Then they also experimented by auctioning 4G spectrum alongside 3G spectrum in 2014, which seemed like a bad idea, but today after a decade its common knowledge that the decision worked for the operators, consumers and the government.
Experts said that government’s such experiments have always helped the ecosystem, and their current decision could also have a positive outcome; and not to mention, other operators could also enjoy the benefits when they will need spectrum during coming few years, i.e. get spectrum for 10 years instead of usual 15 years and pay just two-third of the advance fee instead of higher fee.