An Apple Iphone is displayed by a user. The PTA has delayed its auction for 3G licences in Pakistan.
An Apple Iphone is displayed by a user. The PTA has delayed its auction for 3G licences in Pakistan. – File photo by Reuters

DUBAI: The auction to sell third-generation (3G) mobile telecoms licences in Pakistan has been indefinitely delayed, telecom operators told Reuters on Thursday.

The auction, if completed, would have raised a minimum of 630 million dollars for the country.

The auction of three 3G licences had been scheduled to be held on March 29, according to a January government memorandum, and would be open to the five existing mobile operators plus potential new entrants.

Potential bidders were due to submit expressions of interest from January 21, but they have yet not been invited to do so, Walid Irshaid, chief executive of Pakistan Telecommunication Co (PTCL), told Reuters.

“All the dates announced earlier have been put on hold, what the new date is we don’t know,” said Irshaid. “The first step was not even taken yet. No official notification has been received by us or any other operator.”

Former monopoly PTCL, an affiliate of United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat, is the third-ranked mobile operator, with a 19 per cent market share, behind Norway’s Telenor and Mobilink, a unit of Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, which respectively claim 25 and 30 per cent of Pakistan’s 116 million mobile subscribers.

A spokesman for Telenor said the government had postponed the auction until indefinitely until it hires an international consultant to supervise the process.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, which is running the auction, was not immediately available for comment.

The government, which is still owed $800 million by Etisalat as part of the UAE firm’s $2.6-billion acquisition of a 26 per cent stake in PTCL in 2006, expects to raise at least $630 million from the 3G auction, having set a base price of $210 million for each licence.

That would have raised much-needed money for Pakistan’s government, which battling doubled-digit inflation and a sharply widening trade deficit, while foreign investment into the country has also plunged.

Pakistan’s two other mobile operators are Warid Telecom – a joint venture between Abu Dhabi Group and SingTel Group – and China Mobile Communication Cooperation’s Zong.

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Comments (13)

Tanveer
April 27, 2012 4:06 am
PPP government can not run a transparent process, officials at PTA and Telecom Ministry are politicized and present lot is incompetent to do any positive contributions. What a shame as countries like Afghanistan and Bhutan already have 3G services.
sidney syder
April 27, 2012 1:49 am
3g is a blessing. It opens up the market to a whole new world of opportunities. Really need to get this technology up and running.
Lattaif
April 27, 2012 5:06 am
Mobilink is no more an Orascom unit, Orascom sold its controlling interest to VIMPEL COM Russia :-D
nayyar51
April 27, 2012 5:21 am
May be the auction is postponed to save a defaulter telecom company from being stopped in the participation of the 3G auction? Who cares for Pakistan?
Umar Farooq
April 27, 2012 12:40 am
@Raza: What are you talking about buddy? I am ready to pay a satisfactory amount to any company so that i can connect my phone to internet 24/7. Current rate of Rs25 +tax/MB is not at all affordable. @DMDil: We have to start from somewhere. I am really happy that they have finally decided to take the next step.
DMDiL
April 26, 2012 6:33 pm
What a joke, World is using 4G now.. we our nation still don't have 3G network..
asjad
April 26, 2012 8:34 pm
woooooooooooooow anything which is beneficial always delayed
Kabeer
April 30, 2012 7:45 am
I don't know why the government is not issuing 3G licenses to mobile companies, most importantly this will reduce or budget deficit, I don't this so they are planing for this issue, I can not understand what are they up to.
Raza
April 26, 2012 7:37 pm
will you pay 50$ a month for a 2gb package to avail 4g services?
Usman
April 28, 2012 4:30 pm
can't we just go to 4g instead of wasting money on 3g......
aaz
May 1, 2012 8:40 pm
both countries you mentioned DONT have 3G, you can look it up if you want, both countries have GPRS and Edge technology. the same as Pakistan
Adeel Khan
May 1, 2012 7:49 pm
I don't think this government is serious about such things, forget 3g at least for year now as we have election year coming... and what about zong they will not get licence...
tamim
June 6, 2012 5:57 pm
aaz.. 3G is available in Afghanistan on ETISALAT you can check the web site my friend using 3G in Afghanistan aaz you can check this http://www.etisalat.af/personal/etisalat-3g-is-no...
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