ISLAMABAD: Following receipt of initial bids for 3G and 4G licences from mobile phone companies, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) said on Tuesday it had received offers that surpassed its expectations.
According to a PTA official, the regulator received four initial bids. The licences would go under the hammer next week.
“It is refreshing to see telecom service providers showing keen interest in bidding for 3G and 4G licences,” he said.
“There is no question of the offers being of lower than expected values.” In a statement, he said had there been bids of lower-than-anticipated amounts, there would have been no need for an auction.
The base price for a 3G licence is $295 million and for a 4G licence it’s $210m. Mobile phone companies can bid for one 10MHz bandwidth licence or the entire spectrum, comprising three 10MHz licences (a total bandwidth of 30MHz).
Four of the five major companies – Mobilink, Ufone, Telenor and Zong – have submitted their bids, while Warid Telecom has distanced itself from the process.
Warid’s Public Relations Manager Saud Omar Khan said: “We are exploring better and more advanced technologies than 3G.”
Two foreign service providers, Turkcell and Saudi Telecom, had earlier shown interest in the process. However, they did not enter the competition which was given final shape on Tuesday.
The auction, scheduled for April 23, is expected to raise over $1.6 billion, which will bolster the country’s foreign reserves.
To ensure transparency, PTA has signed a contract with the Value Management Consulting Limited, which will provide consultancy services for the auction, according to a PTA statement.
A source privy to the bidding process said that Mobilink and Zong were pursuing both the 3G and 4G licences aggressively, while Ufone and Telenor were believed to have made modest offers.
However, these claims could not be verified independently. The PTA officials did not reveal details of the bids because they believed this could affect fairness.
“The auction on April 23 will be computerised.
“The design is such that cellular operators will not know who is bidding for what or how many spectrums,” said PTA’s media director Khurram A. Mehran.