ISLAMABAD - The government Thursday announced holding auction of much delayed 3G/4G telecom licences on April 23 which would generate minimum $1.6 billion for the national kitty.

The Spectrum Auction Advisory Committee, which met under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar at Finance Ministry, announced the auction date, April 23, while the sealed bids will be submitted to PTA on April 14, 2014.

The government will offer three licences for the third generation telecom (3x10 MHz licences in the 2100MHz spectrum band) at minimum base price of $295 million each. Similarly, auction of two licences of 4G (2x10MHz paired spectrum in 1800 MHz band) would be offered at base price of $210 million each. The auctions would generate minimum $1.6 billion; however, the government believes that revenue accrued from the auctions might increase to $2 billion.

The previous government, of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), failed to hold the auction of telecom licences in last three years of its tenure. However, the incumbent government expedited the process after assuming the charge in June 2013. PTA Chairman Dr Syed Ismail Shah briefed the committee on the progress made so far on the auction of 3G/4G licenses. He informed that the new spectrum will provide increased download speed and multiple new applications will be available to the consumers, and it will also help enhance employment opportunities.

The finance minister said PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) should ensure that best international standards for quality of service are provided to the consumers. He emphasised that the consumers should get state of the art next generation mobile and internet services in line with the international best practices. PTA was also directed by the committee to launch a public awareness campaign in this regard.

Dar emphasised the whole process should be completed with transparency and diligence, and he expressed his satisfaction over the progress. He expressed the hope that PTA will conduct competitive auction. He concluded that with the introduction of new technology the local telecom industry will benefit from transfer of technology and users will also have new services and applications through the introduction of mobile broadband.

Later on, CEOs of cellular mobile operators also met the Spectrum Auction Advisory Committee and presented and discussed their suggestions on the draft Information Memorandum. The committee considered their recommendations for inclusion in the final Information Memorandum.

The CEOs expressed their satisfaction over the auction process and expressed their commitment to provide high quality 3G /4G services to the people of Pakistan. The meeting was also attended by Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid, MoS Information Technology Ms Anusha Rehman, Finance Secretary Dr Waqar Masood, MOIT Secretary Ikhlaq Tarar and senior officials of ministries of Information Technology and Finance.