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Pakistan raises $1.1bn from spectrum auction

PTelenor has appointed Michael Patrick Foley as CEO for its Pakistan unit

Pakistan’s government has auctioned 3G and 4G spectrum licences, generating around $1.1bn as a result.

The country’s telecoms regulator the PTA raised $903m from auctioning four licences in the 2100MHz spectrum band; two 2x5MHz blocks and two 2x10MHz blocks. The regulator had also set a reserve price of $210m for the sale of each of the two 2x10MHz block of 1800MHz spectrum on offer, although only one of these blocks was acquired.

While the spectrum licences are technology neutral, it is expected that winners of the 2100MHz spectrum will use it to deploy 3G services, while the 1800MHz block will be used for LTE.

The 2100MHz licences were awarded to Russia’s Mobilink, Norway’s Telenor, Ufone – a subsidiary of Pakistan Telecom Company Ltd (PTCL), which is jointly owned by Pakistan’s government and UAE operator group Etisalat, and Zong – a subsidiary of China Mobile. Zong was also the only operator to acquire an 1800MHz licence.

While the PTA did not disclose how much each operator paid, it did reveal that one 2x10MHz block was acquired for $306.9m and the other for $300.9m, while the two 2x5MHz locks were sold for $147.5m each. It did not disclose whether Zong paid any more than the $210m reserve price for its 1800MHz licence.

The PTA labelled the article as “incorrect and baseless” and warned that it reserved the right to take legal action over the matter.The $1.1bn thought to be raised from the auction falls short of the $2bn that the Pakistani government reportedly hoped to generate. Last week, the PTA reacted angrily to an article published by Reuters in which the news agency described the early stages of the country’s current 3G and LTE spectrum auction as “dismal”, suggesting that the amount raised would indeed fall short of the $2bn target.

The 9th annual LTE Asia conference is taking place on the 15th-17th September 2014 at the Suntec, Singapore. Click here to download a brochure for the event.


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