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- File Photo
- File Photo
Chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Ismail Shah (R) presents an online 3G and 4G licence auction of next-generation telecommunications in Islamabad. -AFP Photo
Chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Ismail Shah (R) presents an online 3G and 4G licence auction of next-generation telecommunications in Islamabad. -AFP Photo
A woman reads a brochure of 3G and 4G of next-generation telecommunications during an online auction in Islamabad. -AFP Photo
A woman reads a brochure of 3G and 4G of next-generation telecommunications during an online auction in Islamabad. -AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan raised $903 million in its first auction for 3G mobile phone networks on Wednesday, as well as $210 million for the more advanced 4G spectrum, with four foreign-owned companies emerging as winners from the long-anticipated bidding process.

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.

Ismail Shah, the PTA head, announced the results to reporters after the auction, which lasted all day.

The total opening price of the four lots of 3G licenses was $885 million while there was an increase of $5.9 million in Lot D and $11.92 million in Lot A at the end of the three round auction.

At the end of the auction's first round there was no increase in the bid price whereas there was an increase of $5.9 million in the bid price of Lot D at the end of the second round. Moreover, an increase of $5.9 million and $5.92 million in the bid price of Lot A had taken place by the end of the third and fourth rounds of the auction process.

Ismail Shah had earlier told Dawn that the first round of the license auction process had concluded with the four competing companies agreeing to the base price.

He later said that the bidding companies had three rounds of waiver available at their disposable which had been utilised in the previous three rounds (five - seven).

The addition of another lot of the 3G spectrum licenses was made in accordance to a stipulation in the information memorandum for the spectrum auction.

A view of the PTA website displaying the round-wise results of the auction process.
A view of the PTA website displaying the round-wise results of the auction process.

The PTA committee is authorised to increase the bid price by one to three per cent per round.

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).

The four companies participating in the bidding had earlier logged on to the software of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) for the process.

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.


Also read: 3G, 4G may triple internet cost for users


For consumers, the auction will not immediately translate into the advent of 3G connectivity on their mobile phones. In fact, the timeframe agreed upon between the PTA and mobile operators envisions 3G roll out within six months of the auction.

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.


Comments (42) Closed



Adnan Apr 23, 2014 09:41am

I think just like electricity, water, gas and telephone services, 3G and 4G will never make it to whole of Pakistani tehsils ... I am not negative about Pakistan or its services but i am realistic!

Rasheed Ali Apr 23, 2014 10:31am

This is a good move, but don't think that it is moving with good pace. from 2009 we are waiting for 3G and 4G. Hope for the best.

ashfaq ahmad Apr 23, 2014 11:18am

The dollers government gain from auctions will be going in import of 3g and 4g compatible cellphones. hahaha

Hasan Apr 23, 2014 11:55am

We know PTCL 3G evo service is available not only in major cities but in town and villages, same goes for 3G/4G mobile service. Mobile companies already have a plan to start with big cities and spread later on to small cities.

ZX Apr 23, 2014 12:24pm

@Adnan: Similar speculations were made when mobile phone was introduced ... Running about 200,000/device. Who would have thought that in 20 years remote villages will be using services like Easy Paisa.

Adeeb Hassan Apr 23, 2014 12:39pm

@Adnan: This is called being shameless. Without even the start of matters, you have started blame game. People like you never deserve anything good.

shuaib Apr 23, 2014 12:49pm

@Adnan: Sorry man, but you are not realistic, you are rather sadist!

Abdullah Ansari Apr 23, 2014 01:02pm

Well A good move to improve telecom technology. But be alert for the consequences of Misuse of technology. We have to educate our nation first on how to use it positively. I am not against it but highlighting a major step that we have to take for the betterment of both rural and urban society.

Waleed Tafheem Apr 23, 2014 01:39pm

Refering to the article where it stated that price of internet will be increased by three times, that is almost Rs 60/MB. I dont think that such kind of internet connectivity will attract a market of common man. Its just like driving a car at a speed of 250kph which consumes 10 litres for every kilometre. No matter how quickly, but you have only travelled a kilometre. But as long as countries exchequer is increasing, who cares abt the usage.

Waleed Tafheem Apr 23, 2014 01:40pm

@ashfaq ahmad: Such phones are already in market

Altaf Hussain Rizvi Apr 23, 2014 01:59pm

The Telecom industry in Pakistan has always flourished during the tenure of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. The telecom industry got the first-ever big boost during 1991 when MNS deregulated the telecom industry in Pakistan. As a result, a number of private players entered the Pakistani market and the monopoly of T&T (exorbitant pricing but still loss making) broke. The initial players were:

1 Digital Communications [DC Pager]

2 Cable & Wireless [Paktel]

3 Arfeen Group [Instaphone]

4 Saif Telecom [Mobilink]

The efforts for privatization were started in that era with corporatization (of T&T) into PTCL and unbundling of National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) for the government organizations.

The telecom industry has been inhibited by Dictator Musharraf

Altaf Hussain Rizvi Apr 23, 2014 02:01pm

@Rasheed Ali: It is because of the secret deal between Musharraf and Etisalat - Dubai (in return for a luxury penthouse at Southbridge, downtown Dubai as a kickback) due to which the buyer of PTCL is still not making the remaining payment of US$ 700 Million and the auction of new licenses could not be held for 07 years causing huge loss to Pakistan.

Ahmad Apr 23, 2014 02:02pm

Government always discriminate larger cities of Multan, Faisalabad, Haiderabad and Gujranwala in favor of smaller cities of Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta.

khan murad afridi Apr 23, 2014 02:10pm

@ashfaq ahmad: very true and let me add, it was delayed as politician didnt know what it is, so they delayed it to learn more about it and look for hidden business opportunities , e.g 3g cell phone import, backend some politician.

khan murad afridi Apr 23, 2014 02:12pm

boys and girls get ready, now after 12 midnight you would be able to see each other aswell ;) her waqat sachi yari tum he tou ho

BILAWAL Apr 23, 2014 03:30pm

Why every service is limited to these 3 to 4 cities..? they are already having better ptcl infrastructure,its not fair..SHAME ON YOU mobile operators,we living in other cities are also your loyal users you cant do this

Asghar Apr 23, 2014 04:01pm

@Altaf Hussain Rizvi: Whatever else you might call Musharraf, you can't call him corrupt. If you want to know who is corrupt, look no further than your 'democratic' leaders.

Anila Apr 23, 2014 04:20pm

Why are these auctions being conducted in USD? Is it legal. I think its shameful act which is like compromising our sovereignty and degrading our own currency.

Abdul Apr 23, 2014 04:39pm

@Anila: Because our economy based on USD.

Muhammad Shehzad Apr 23, 2014 04:55pm

Telenor has already installed 3G infrastructure on all of its towers including the deserts of cholistan (Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan area) just give them free hand to start 3G instead of limiting operations, then the citizens like me in backward areas will be able to use the service instantly.

Maqsood Apr 23, 2014 05:04pm

Well Done PTA----------

Mir Apr 23, 2014 06:57pm

@Anila What exactly do we produce that is sought after in the world that people would even talk about PKR? Our number 1 export is educated people and probably all sorts of raw materials. Oh and emotional thoughts of grandeur.

Saad Zafar Apr 23, 2014 09:18pm

Good to finally have 3G and 4G in Pakistan.

Munir Hussain Apr 23, 2014 09:52pm

Great Work done by PTA and Ministry of IT.Government has raised sufficient amount of revenue.Once again it is great achievement by chairman PTA and Minister of State for Information Technology.Now youth will enjoy this technology .It is good initiative by Government and Specially for the Youth.We should appreciate the GOVT and think positively.

Shakeel Khan Apr 23, 2014 10:54pm

In 4 years the rest of Pakistan will get 3G while the world including Afghanistan moves past 4G LTE to the next technology.... Shame on Pakistan!

shuja Apr 23, 2014 11:29pm

Has the 3g and 4g service started??

Naveed Apr 23, 2014 11:44pm

For a country of 180 Million and having 130 Million Cell Phones. This auction is much much lower than International Standard. They should have taken time and invited more International operators. The going rate in International Market is 4 times that for 3G and 4G is unknown at this time.

Saima Apr 23, 2014 11:48pm

@Adnan I couldn't agree more

Saima Apr 23, 2014 11:51pm

@ZX You live outside Pakistan. If you think Pakistan perfect for investing and working, Why R we in the west? To improve yourself we need to identify our issues like a doctor. If every thing is fine, no medicine, no operation. But we all need doctor because we live in real world

Saima Apr 23, 2014 11:54pm

@shuaib Adnan is right. to identify issues and problem does not mean you are wrong. Brave people identify their mistakes and fix the issue. If every thing is perfect we do not need Doctor, Mechanic, plumber etc

Identify issues is a good practice. Thanks Adnan bringing up right picture. I think exchange will move to Sharif brothers places.

AliG Apr 23, 2014 11:57pm

Agree with @Munir Hussain. This is a major milestone for Pakistan and for the government that is in power for less than a year. The $$ figure is not exactly what they were predicting but they are pretty close to the expectation $0.2m short from $1.3 expectation. And lets not forget the fact that there is only an 18 month moratorium on new license issuance, so we can expect another player getting this license unlike the moratorium imposed by Etisalat on purchase of PTCL.

PPP on the other hand, did not conduct the 3G auction being in power for 5 years. I have come to a simple conclusion for this, they did not do it because of any technical/economical hurdles. It's just that the convicted/10-year prisoner leadership could not envision such a milestone happening for the People of Pakistan.

Muhammad Imran Apr 24, 2014 12:19am

Congratulation people for the service which is present in around the countries for many years. the only concern i have that PTA was expecting initially around 2 billion dollars than came down to 1.3 and now the actual bidding ends at 1.1 billion dollar. I hope PTA would not have left a single effort to capitalize maximum possible revenue to Pakistani Exchequer

Sohraab Apr 24, 2014 12:19am

I am astonished, disappointed the way this Government has missed the opportunity of making more than 4 Billion Dollars. Can't believe that they will offer both 3G and 4G on the same day, same year. I am sure that all the operators must be laughing all the way to the Bank for getting both 3G & 4G at the cost of 1. Thank you Nawaz League for another BLUNDER!!!! What a Joke this Government is and how ignorant we are!!

John Apr 24, 2014 12:50am

The auction drew $200 million less than the $ 1.3 Billion target. I am wondering about how the bidding companies will recover their money and make profit without price escalation. The 3G/4G service will be used by how many people needs to be seen.

Ahmer Apr 24, 2014 03:14am

Handing over all licenses to foreign companies in perpetuity might come to haunt us some day.

ashfaq ahmad Apr 24, 2014 05:45am

I wonder how government offer 4 no of licenses for four companies, no point of bidding left. if it was two or one, they may have got 3 to 4 billion dollars for single licence, but then again it is pakistan.

Hashim Apr 24, 2014 06:22am

@Adnan agree

dubaakoru Apr 24, 2014 06:25am

I feel pity or this winner for their over bid prices as they may have to wait a decade or two to reap profits from their investments as many (foreign analysts) and own PTA officials predict the data usage will not be at expected lines as the majority people in Pakistan prefer 2G (voice calls) over 3G and 4G.

Shakil Khan Apr 24, 2014 07:11am

@Altaf Hussain Rizvi

I think you just got carried away, Instaphone & Paktel were in the market during PM Junejo era. DC Pager was awarded to one of PPP crony during BB first tenure. and yeah Saif telecom was none other than PML own leaders!

telecom liberalisation was again started by PTA itself well before Sharifs and continued with fibre network award to Ericsson and Siemens.

its the market that driven the telecom success and pushed by businessmen! just like the media explosion during Musharraf tenure.

Pakistan economy worked when there are professionals in control not because of politicians unfortunately who all dont have any clue apart from corruption and kickbacks! Governments should place competent professionals at top and let them run, keep the micky mouse ministers away. Examples are Dr Mehboob ul Haq, Dr Ata ur Rehman, Dr Munir Khan, Dr AQ Khan, Dr Samarmand etc either place professional ministers or delegate to who can deliver instead of keeping all ministeries under own control. two cents!

Jawad Gill Apr 24, 2014 12:59pm

What's the point of high speed mobile internet? when you can only use limited data in between 2 to 4 GB, suppose if I pay RS.1800 for my PTCL DSL 2MB and 1000 to 1500 rupees for 3G ... it's about 3000 to 4000 rupees as a whole ... and I am a working class, so can not afford it. so who cares about it ... they are not going to introduce unlimited 3g internet because PTCL Broadband clientele will drop down ... we belong to a third world country of crooked crowd not nation so you can expect it from so called PTA. Everyone so called pirated intellectual discussing and is comparing with other countries. Well if you compare your just DSL broadband with other developed countries than UK is offering unlimited 10MB broadband internet in just 10 pounds which is almost not more than RS.1500 and 50MB for just 50 pounds including free calls which is not more than 6 to 7 thousand rupees. Also compare it with Malaysia, india and rest of the world ... so light aye gi tu mobile charge ho ga na ... 3g just starting here after 3 to 4 years lol ... come on cavemen internet users grow up ... south korea is giving 100MB internet for just $50. I studied IT in UK and came back to serve my country but now I am hopeless. Big nations are those who accept critics and improve ... We are simply a crowd who do not give way to Ambulance ... urgghhh

Haris Apr 24, 2014 04:19pm

If anyone of you knows that extant exact time when they ate going to be launch tell me

Saeed Apr 25, 2014 01:37pm

3G/4G technologies will revolutionize use of IT-based devices, and a day will come when this technology will reach each corner of the country. Well done, current Government.