Pakistan’s state-owned Ufone obtained a further 2×9MHz of 1800MHz spectrum in the country’s latest spectrum auctions.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) confirmed that Ufone was the sole bidder in the auction, enabling the operator to acquire its holding at the reserve price of US$279 million. CommsUpdate notes that additional spectrum in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands was available but went unsold.
Ufone’s three main rivals – VEON’s Jazz, Telenor’s local unit and China Mobile’s Zong – opted to withdraw from the auction process, raising criticism of the PTA’s process and in particular its reserve prices. However, PTA Chairman Amir Azeem Bajwa was quoted by local newspaper Dawn as saying that the auction could be considered successful since all operators were able to participate.
Azeem noted that Jazz and Telenor have both claimed that their current spectrum holdings are sufficient for their planned service offerings, while Zong is currently engaged in a legal dispute over a tranche of its spectrum. He further argued that the reserve prices were in fact lower than neighbouring countries including Bangladesh and India.