ISLAMABAD - It seems unlikely that the government will be able to generate as much as 2 billion dollars from the next generation mobile spectrum auction as only 4 out of 5 local operators have participated in the auction and no new entrant submitted interest for the licences.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had fixed April 14 as the deadline for bids for the next generation mobile spectrum auction. There were 6 slots available for the auction – 3 in 2100 MHz band, 2 in 1800 MHz band and on in 850 MHz band while the last one was reserved for any new entrant.

The PTA received auction bids from China Mobile, PTML (UFone), Mobilink and Telenor Pakistan. But neither Warid nor any new entrant – apart these 5 mobile operators already doing business in the country – submitted interest in the auction.

After evaluation of bids, PTA will announce the qualified bidders on April 17. As the demand is little more than the supply in terms of spectrum in 2100 MHz band, the allocation of the spectrum will happen through an auction process.

Any company that wish to buy 4G spectrum that is available in 1800 MHz band, is bound to buy spectrum in 2100 MHz band that offers 3G services. There are 3 slots in the aforementioned band but that can be divided further so all the 4 bidders might be entertained but the 2 slots available in 4G band of 1800 MHz cannot be divided so only 2 companies will be able to have 4G licenses.

The present bids are mostly offering the minimum base price set by the government that totals at $1.3 billion. In the next phase of the auction it might slightly go up but the government's expectation of raising around $2 billion from the process seems not possible.