ISLAMABAD  - Prime Minister has approved the final draft of Information Memorandum, a key document necessary for the upcoming 3G/4G auction, prepared by the International consultant hired by Pakistan Telecom Authority.

Minister of State for Information Technology and Telecommunication Anusha Rehman held a press conference on Tuesday and told that the development was made late (Monday) night. She said that the ministry was committed to finalise it (Information Memorandum) by 17th March and it has done so.

The final draft was made after extensive meetings with the stakeholders and proper feedback was sought from the operators working in the market before the finalisation of the draft.

About the expected financial gains from the auction, she said, “Present government was more ambitious and competent as the previous government had set a target of $1.2 billion as expected income from the sale of next generation mobile technology licenses but we have revised it and it will be much more than that”.

She also told that earlier the government was only planning to auction spectrum for 3G technologies but Chairman PTA insisted that it should auction 4G as well. “Government considered his view feasible and added more blocks for the auction.”

She said that the government has set the base price as $295 million for 10MHz paired spectrum in 2100 GHz band, $210 million for 10MHz paired spectrum in 1800MHz frequency band and $291 million for 7.38Mhz paired spectrum in 850MHz frequency band. The last one is only reserved for the new entrant.

Payment options are set as full payment or minimum 50 per cent upfront and the remaining can be paid in 5 equal installments in 5 years with interest rate at LIBOR plus 3 per cent. “The payment rules are made strict and in case of delay in payment and non-payment for a long time, the government reserves the right to even cancel the contract apart from imposing penalties,” she said. No such condition was part of the contracts earlier made with the companies, she added.

On the insistence of mobile operators that they might not be able to pay in dollars, the government has relaxed that clause and now they can pay in rupees as well. She also mentioned that performance was also one of the conditions that the winners will have to submit before standing eligible for the license.

She told that already present operators had requested to insert a clause that the government will not hold any more spectrum auction in next 5 years but that was denied but the government agreed on 18 months’ time period. But the condition does not impose on the blocks presented for auction this time and if any block remains unsold, the government reserves the right to auction it any time soon after.