ISLAMABAD, April 28: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has offered Warid Telecom, the third highest bidder in the April 14 mobile telephone auction, the new cellular phone licence, to replace Space Telecom , which failed to submit the required amount within the stipulated period.

"PTA has conveyed a written offer to Warid Telecom for mobile phone licences," said PTA Chairman Shahzada Alam Malik here on Wednesday. Warid Telecom had responded positively by submitting $19 million on Wednesday and had also dispatched another chunk of $10 million to be received by the authority within a day or two in addition to $10 million earnest money which it paid earlier, the chairman said.

The company had also assured the authority to submit the rest of the amount of $33.75 million within the next ten working days, the chairman told reporters after the conclusion of investors conference for the award of local loop (LL) and long distance international (LDI) licences for the fixed telephone lines here at a local hotel.

The PTA has also forfeited the earnest money of $10 million, paid by Space Telecom, which had April 26 deadline to deposit 25 per cent ($72.75 million) of the total licence fee out of $291 million. The company failed to deposit the amount due to some internal conflict.

Under the licence agreement the successful bidders are required to pay 25 per cent of the total licence fee within 10 working days from the date of bidding, and another 25 per cent within the next 30 working days. The remaining 50 per cent of the licence fee is to be paid in 10 equal annual instalments.

Norway's Telenor Mobile Telecommunication, which had also won the second mobile telephone licence during the bidding for $291 million had submitted 25 per cent of the total licence fee within the time period.

The chairman described the ongoing litigation between the stakeholders of the Space Telecom as their internal matter and explained that PTA has not been stayed by any court of law from cancelling the licence, which the Space Telecom clinched during the bidding. Besides, under the law PTA reserved the right to cancel the licence and forfeit the earnest money.

To a question, he conceded that two stakeholders of the Space Telecom had approached PTA to inform that the required amount of $72.75 million would be transferred to the authority as soon as the internal dispute of the company was resolved.

However, the PTA refused to act against the licence agreement. Meanwhile, the last date for the receipt of applications for the grant of LL and LDI licences has been extended from May 14 to May 30 on the persistent demand of telecom investors during the investor's conference.

The conference was attended by more than 77 chief executives of renowned national and international telecom investors and their representatives. Earlier, the chairman while presiding over the conference said the authority had received massive response from the intending investors for grant of fixed telecommunication licences in view of vast potential in this vibrant sector.

He said the teledensity in Pakistan was only 2.8 per cent, which was quite low compared to Asian standard of 11 per cent. Keeping in view the location of the country, its linkages with the Gulf and Central Asian States as well as national GDP, the teledensity should have been 7 to 8 per cent, he said.

The chairman said that in the past more emphasis was laid on urban telecommunication as a result of which out of 50,000 villages in Pakistan, 31,000 villages were still deprived of telecommunication access and facility.

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