ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications on Wednesday issued policy directive to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for conducting transparent and competitive auction for allocation of single block of 10MHz paired spectrum in the 1,800MHz band.

The base price of the block on offer has been set at 295 million US dollars after thorough analysis and based on the market demand study of the PTA and the international technology and market benchmarking.

Due to rapid growth and escalating demand of mobile broadband services requirement of more frequency spectrum, which is a critical input for high quality mobile broadband services, was foreseen. The penetration of mobile broadband services  have quickly grown from a paltry figure of less than three per cent in 2013 to more than 27 per cent of the mobile phone user in the wake of the successful and transparent spectrum auctions.

Keeping in view the future demand of the industry in terms of frequency spectrum an advisory committee, under chairpersonship of Minister of State for IT, Anusha Rahman, was constituted by the prime minister of Pakistan to analyse the market situation and recommend a way forward.

The advisory committee convened a series of meetings and extensively deliberated on different options and market scenarios.  In its last meeting, the advisory committee finalised its recommendations for approval of the cabinet.

In the policy directive, the PTA has been directed to design the auction process in a manner to fulfil policy objectives of optimal outcome. The PTA will conduct the auction within this financial year. Payment terms and conditions will remain the same as were in 2014 NGMS auction.  All existing mobile operators as well as new entrants will be eligible to participate in the auction.

New license for provision of NGMS services will be issued to successful bidder for a period of 15 years. Provisions of Telecommunication Policy 2015 related to sharing of infrastructure and national roaming will be applicable.

It is expected that the current move by the Government to supply the market with critical commodity of frequency spectrum will prove to be an important milestone in enabling mobile industry to aggressively expand their networks to each and every nook of the country, while maintaining quality of service standards for Pakistani users and digital economy of the country.