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Telenor sole interested party for Pakistan’s 850MHz auction

Norwegian group Telenor was the sole applicant for Pakistan’s upcoming 850MHz spectrum auction.

The country’s regulator PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) confirmed that Telenor was the only operator to submit an application to bid before the June 1st deadline. The auction is scheduled for the 20th June after being delayed by a week.

The 2x10MHz of available spectrum went unsold when it was auctioned two years ago. The base price has reportedly been set at $395 million; as it has no competition Telenor will likely not have to exceed this price, and may even be able to acquire the spectrum for less as it has been reported that the spectrum in question experiences issues with interference.

Originally scheduled to take place in 2015, the spectrum sale was twice delayed after all five of the country’s operators declined to take part. Despite Telenor’s participation this time round, Mobilink, Ufone and Zong will continue to abstain.

The PTA has been advised by the government that the sale must take place by mid-June, despite the regulator commissioning a report which indicated that a further spectrum auction would fail due to a lack of interest from operators. The telecom providers are disinclined to invest in more spectrum for at least another year as they cope with slim margins.

The lack of interest in this auction doesn’t bode well for a recently approved proposal by Pakistan’s finance minister which pushed for holding another auction – this time for 1.8GHz spectrum – after the 850MHz auction is concluded. The previous 4G sale also saw 1.8GHz spectrum go unsold.

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