Pakistan Regulator Denies Plans to Cancel 3G License Auction
Published on: 16th Apr 2014
By: Ian Mansfield
Pakistan's telecoms regulator has refuted claims that there was a poor response to the planned 3G license auction despite reports that the finance minister (Ishaq Dar) was furious about the lack of interest.
Four of the country's five mobile networks have applied, which is more than will be able to win spectrum, but there was no interest from new entrants to the market, despite an extensive lobbying effort by the regulator and repeated claims of high interest in the spectrum auction.
Both Turkcell and Saudi Telecom had been named as likely bidders.
An unnamed official told the Reuters news agency that "This has happened because of an over enthusiastic IT ministry which oversold an undercooked plan to its fiscal managers. It looks like heads may roll on this one."
The source added that the Finance Minister is so concerned that he is considering calling off the auction.
However, the telecoms regulator dismissed such claims, and said that the auction will proceed as planned next week.
According to the PTA, the base price for the auction of three 3G licences has been set at $295 million. The government had talked up expectations that the auction could raise as much as USD2 billion, but that is now looking less likely.