3G/4G/LTE Spectrum License : Senators flay PTA’s auction as ‘license to loot’
ISLAMABAD (January 24, 2012) : PTA’s Plan to auction five licences including 3G/4G spectrum at throwaway prices, has gone down the drain, when opposition senators on Tuesday warned the government not to proceed with its auction plan without taking them into confidence.
Senator Pervez Rashid of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, (PML-N) who was supported by Haji Adeel, Ilyas Bilour of ANP, Col. Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi (retd) of MQM, Prof. hurshid of JI and others, took serious note of an advertisement to auction the Mobile Cellular Licenses/Spectrum (3G,4G/LTE etc) by Pakistan Telecommuni-cation Authority (PTA).
Terming the auction as a ‘license to loot’, the Senators demanded the chair to immediately issue directives to block the move. However, after government’s intervention, the chair referred the matter to Senate’s Standing Committee on Information Technology with the directives to present a report in the house within two days.
They said that $210 million base price of each 1900/2000 MHz (megahertz) 3G licence and $31.5 million the earnest money was a peanut, and any effort to auction such an expensive and advanced technology at such a cheap rate would be resisted.
The PTA has decided to auction 2100 MHz by giving three licences to existing players and one to a new player and base price for each licence was set at $210 million with the earnest money of $31.5 million.
The licence, according to the advertisement, will be for a 15-year term and new entrants can start operation after March 2013, which the enraged senators said is not acceptable at any cost.
Another licence auction process for 800 MHz (megahertz) 3G/4G will be through multiple rounds, open and outcry method. The base price of this licence will be $155 million. The advertisement further says that the licences would be ‘technology neutral’, which the senators said would be like a charity as with such relaxed rules, there would be no binding on the owner to pay in time.
They said that such a deal would be like that of Etisalat, which bought PTCL, is yet to pay $800 million outstanding dues and are paying the said amount after earning the same from the country.
(Pub;ished in Daily “Business Recorder” on 25-01-2012)