Pakistan earns over USD 1 billion in 3G/4G spectrum auction

Apr 24 2014, 19:55 IST
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SummaryPakistan has mopped up USD 1.128 billion from the auction of 3G and 4G spectrum licences to cellular service providers in the...

Pakistan has mopped up USD 1.128 billion from the auction of 3G and 4G spectrum licences to cellular service providers in the country, bringing it at par with the technology available in more than 160 countries.

Pakistan, which was the only country in its neighbourhood not to have 3G technology, sold its spectrum to four companies.

No new foreign firm had bid.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the successful auction of 3G and 4G spectrum has opened up new world of exploration and achievement.

"This, much delayed, initiative has brought Pakistan to the cutting edge of technology, upon which our nation will achieve new frontiers of advancement," said the Prime Minister in a statement issued today.

Talking to media after the auction last evening, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that the government has one more segment in 1800 MHz band and one license reserved for new entrants, which would fetch additional income.

The four winners of the 3G auction were Russian-owned Mobilink, Chinese-controlled Zong, Norway's Telenor, and Ufone - a company jointly owned by the Pakistan government and the United Arab Emirates' Etisalat.

As for the 4G spectrum, the sole winner was Zong, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

Warid Telecom Pakistan, another company operating in Pakistan, did not make any bids.

The introduction of 3G and 4G spectrum in the telecom sector is expected to revolutionise the way subscribers stay connected.

4G provides even faster speeds and ultra-broadband services, putting data-intensive services such as online gaming, high definition mobile TV and video conferencing within the reach of the average consumer.

For consumers, the auction will not immediately translate into the advent of 3G connectivity on their mobile phones.

In fact, the time frame agreed upon between the PTA and mobile operators envisions 3G roll out within six months of the auction, Dawn News reported.

In the first phase, services will be available in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta and later on in other cities from each of the four provinces.

The second phase, which will start a year-and-a-half after the auction, envisions the expansion of 3G services to about 80 more cities.

In the third phase, which will begin about four years from now, 90 per cent of all 'tehsil' headquarters will have access to 3G services.

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