Less than two weeks left till the long-awaited 3G and 4G auctions and yet another issue has been brought up to stall something the public has been promised for years. Opposition now has a contention with the number of PTA members on the panel, and they want one more to be appointed before moving on with auctioning the licenses. The auction that promises to generate at least $1.5 billion with the potential to change the face of trade through increased payment options, greater market access and more advanced communication has been delayed for the most trivial of reasons, and this small technicality is no different.

Communication and particularly the internet is present in every sphere of trade in the rest of the world, and the only way to bring Pakistan up to speed is through allowing telecommunication companies to start offering this service and utilize all that it promises to bring before it becomes obsolete. The government might not realise this, but the returns of the auction will by no means be immediate. Test runs of 3G by various cellular companies have shown that upgrades will have to be made to infrastructure in some cases and other minor problems such as offering more advanced sims to the customers will have to be overcome before 3G and 4G can be offered to the public. In India for instance, only 10% of the market has access to 3G after 4 years. Pakistan’s current consumer base of the internet and the snail’s pace at which the country operates makes it likely that it will take longer here. Selling the licenses is a start, and that is the only thing the government needs to do on its own. The rest of the issues are to be overcome by the private sector, and the returns will be beneficial for everyone involved, from the government to the average consumer. So why dilly-dally?