China Mobile’s Pakistani unit, which operates as Zong, has complained to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority that its quality of service is being severely affected by interference on its 1.8GHz spectrum.
Zong, which has the third-largest market share in Pakistan with 22%, acquired 10MHz of 1.8GHz spectrum at auction last year for $210 million. However, this band is also used by certain DECT 6.0 wireless devices, which causes disruption to Zong’s 4G services. Despite the PTA imposing a ban on cordless phones operating at this frequency, the problem persists.
The operator has reportedly requested that the regulator either resolve the issue by removing the interference completely, or alternatively allocate it a different 4G frequency. Zong has noted that the issue is impacting its business by deterring new customers.
Unfortunately for Zong, the problem is unlikely to be resolved swiftly by the PTA as the Minister for State for Telecom and IT has indicated that more auctions for 3G and 4G spectrum are imminent. A 10Hz block of 1.8GHz spectrum that didn’t sell in last year’s auctions is still available.
However, operators are believed to be unreceptive to spending more in fresh spectrum auctions, as they are coping with moderate growth but high taxes – spectrum sold at auction was subject to a last-minute 10% tax. Currently only Telenor, the number 2, is currently making a profit.