ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Monday issued new licences to three cellular mobile operators after winning spectrum in the first-ever cellular spectrum auction for Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), which generated a revenue to the tune of $30.322 million
The licence signing ceremony for NGMS in the AJ&K and GB was held here on Monday, where three Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) including CMPak (Zong), Telenor Pakistan, and PTML (Ufone) were issued new licences.
The event was attended by Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and GB Ali Amin Khan Gandapur; Chief Minister of GB, Muhammad Khalid Khurshid; Federal Secretary for IT and Telecommunication Dr Suhail Rajput, Chairman PTA, Maj Gen Amir Azeem Bajwa (retd), members of the Authority, Special Assistant to Prime Minister AJ&K for Information Technology, Secretary Kashmir and GB Affairs, Executive Director, the Frequency Allocation Board (FAB), and senior management of mobile companies.
The PTA conducted the electronic auction where two operators i.e. CMPak (Zong) and PMCL (Jazz) participated for 1800 MHz band.
The electronic auction went up to 18 rounds and was concluded by declaring Zong as the winner of 10 MHz (2 blocks of 5 MHz) in 1800 MHz band against the price of USD 14.398 million.
The spectrum sold in 1800 MHz band was 85 percent of the total offered spectrum in the said band for AJ&K and GB.
Furthermore, Telenor, Ufone, and Zong also won 1.2 MHz in 1800 MHz band. Telenor, Pakistan was declared winner in 2100 MHz band for a spectrum of 15 MHz against the set base price.
The spectrum sold in 2100 MHz band is 50 percent of the total offered spectrum in the said band.
The PTA completed the auction process with assistance of internationally-reputed consultant JV Telconet/Frontier Economics, who was onboard since April 2021, and conducted thorough consultation with cellular industry and other stakeholders.
Ali Amin Khan Gandapur, Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and GB addressing on this occasion said that the addition of this spectrum will help CMOs to provide better data and voice services in the two regions, currently being focused for promotion of tourism.
The minister said that one of the two demands of the area was spectrum auction, which has been met.
The other demand of giving provincial status to GB is in final stage.
He further said that GB is very important with respect to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the additional spectrum would resolve connectivity issues faced by the residents as well as tourists.
He said that through the NGMS, digital divide will be reduced and tourism will flourish further in the regions.
The minister also appreciated the efforts of the PTA for the successful completion of the spectrum auction process.
GB Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid said that during the Covid-19, one of the biggest issues being faced by the region was connectivity.
He said that education sector suffered the most due to low coverage; however, the additional spectrum would help in reducing the hurdles in the way to connectivity and Prime Minister’s Digital Vision.
He said the tax-free status of the region would continue to facilitate the public. He also said that besides true leadership, there was also need of political will to resolve the long standing issues including spectrum auction.
He said the additional spectrum will open up a new era of modern telecom services for the people of AJ&K and GB.
He also appreciated the Special Communication Organization (SCO) for providing better connectivity facilities in the area despite tough terrain and environment.
Federal Secretary for Information Technology and Telecommunication DrSuhail Rajput said the Ministry of IT&T is committed to enhance connectivity and improve digital infrastructure in the country.
He also said that government is planning 5G auction in next one and a half year.
The chairman PTA said the PTA is working to ensure that Pakistanis have access to high quality services and benefit from ubiquitous coverage.
Continuous efforts are being made to spread state-of-the-art telecommunication services to far-flung areas enabling access to a multitude of opportunities for businesses, education, and health.
The award of licences for NGMS in the two regions will contribute towards strengthening uninterrupted provision of better telecom services to the people of the AJ&K and the GB in line with the GOP vision of a “Digital Pakistan”.
Bajwa said the government would not hold spectrum and would bring for potential buyers as for their demands.
He said the auction of additional spectrum would pave the way for 5G roadmap.
The DG Licensing PTA said that cellular licences in the AJ&K and the GB were issued to Jazz, Telenor, and Ufone in 2006.
The same were renewed in June 2021 at $13.5 million each (total $40.5 million). 3G/4G Standards were introduced through these licences on technology neutral basis.
Cellular licence to CMPAK was issued in June 2007 and will be renewed next year, said the DG, adding that additional spectrum was also made available by the government for first spectrum auction by the PTA in AJ&K and GB to further meet the growing demand of data services in wake of tourism and mobile financial services activities.
He further said that new quality of services (QoS) standards introduced for 3G/4G i.e. 3G – (1 Mbps) and 4G – (4 Mbps). New network roll out obligations to meet the growing demand of consumers, with proportionate distribution in urban and rural areas to reduce digital divide.
Kamal Ahmed, chief corporate affairs officer, Telenor Pakistan said that a prosperous future cannot be conceived without providing high tech connectivity to a society. No doubt, ICT will drive the country’s progress forward, said Ahmed, adding that Telenor Pakistan’s mission is to connect people to what matters most to them.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021