Spectrum auction policy approved

Published July 28, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan presides over the meeting of the federal cabinet on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy Prime Minister's Office
Prime Minister Imran Khan presides over the meeting of the federal cabinet on Tuesday. — Photo courtesy Prime Minister's Office

ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday approved a new spectrum policy for commercial auction of next generation mobile and internet service after which connectivity of mobile phones and broadband facility will improve in urban as well as far-flung areas of the country.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the federal cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

At present, the county has 4-G (fourth generation) facility and after the new policy 5-G (fifth generation) service will be available to the people.

The cabinet decided that the spectrum auction will be carried out for the first time for Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) so that the people of these areas could also have better mobile phone and internet facilities.

Both AJK and GB have 2-G (second generation) mobile service and it was a longstanding demand of the people of these regions to have a better facility like 4-G, already available in Pakistan.

“For Pakistan, the cabinet approved auction of additional spectrum for 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz frequencies,” Information Technology Minister Syed Aminul Haq told Dawn after the cabinet meeting.

He said the base price for 1800 MHz frequency was set at $31 million per MHz while the price of 2100 MHz frequency will be $29m per MHz.

“When cel phone companies will get the additional frequency, their services will improve a lot and people will have faster and clear mobile and internet facility throughout the county even in the rural areas,” said Mr Haq.

He said the cabinet also took a “landmark” decision to conduct spectrum auction for the AJK and GB that would also help improve broadband and mobile phone services in these regions. He said the auction would be conducted for both 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz frequencies.

The minister expressed the hope that besides giving better facilities to the people the government would generate millions of US dollars by auctioning the spectrum frequencies.

Mr Haq said following the cabinet decision his ministry would issue policy directions after which the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) would hold auction of the new spectrum in 35 to 45 days. He said the PTA would ensure transparency and fair play in the auctions.

According to the PTA website, in line with the policy directive of the government, the Authority had issued “Framework for Test and Development of Future Technologies (Particularly Fifth Generation (5G) Wireless Networks in Pakistan)” in June 2019 for facilitating testing/trial only of 5G technology and related services in Pakistan.

As a follow-up of the policy directions, the PTA has granted six months permission to PMCL (Jazz) and CMPak (Zong) to conduct test and trial of 5G Technology under limited environment. The permission is limited to testing purposes only on a non-commercial basis.

It said commercial launch of 5th Generation services in Pakistan would be done in due course following a process involving policy directions by Government of Pakistan and necessary regulatory approvals.

Published in Dawn, July 28th , 2021

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