Pakistan’s regulator prepares to auction 3G spectrum

Reports from Pakistan suggest that the country’s telecoms regulator, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), is preparing to auction 3G spectrum, with the bidding expected to take place in three to four months.

There have been reports that Pakistani operators are unenthusiastic about the rollout of 3G services; however, these assertions were downplayed by the PTA’s Chairman Muhammad Yaseen, who claimed that “certain operators” supported the regulator’s proposed auctions.

Pakistan’s government has highlighted India’s 3G auctions as an example of “the bullish mood of investors”, claiming that the success of the auctions indicates strong investor interest throughout the South Asia region.

Yaseen also spoke of the importance of “promoting business at local level”, claiming that value-added services would be instrumental in appealing to Pakistani subscribers. Their rapid development and deployment is therefore important, and operators – in particular foreign ones – have cottoned on to this, with China Mobile-owned Zong offering a 60/40 share in revenue for 3G content developers.

Licences are likely to be technology-neutral, allowing operators the liberty of selecting their desired network technology. Pakistan’s current operators will be offered 3G spectrum by the PTA; however, this will not oblige them to create and launch services.

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