ISLAMABAD  - At one side the government is planning to generate up to $1 billion from the next generation spectrum auction but on the other side the telecom industry has shared its reservations with the relevant quarters about the pricing issue terming it a hurdle in the way of promoting next generation technology in the country on fast track.

Reliable sources told TheNation that almost all the telecom operators have showed their concern on the pricing of next generation spectrum auction and has shared with the government that if the companies had to spend a lot of money to just buy the licences, they would not be able to expand the technology on fast track basis across the country.

Operators in their favour have quoted 2 examples in front of the concerned quarters. The first one is about India where the spectrum was sold at a much higher price and secondly Bangladesh that took the different line and rather focused on the promotion of next generation technology in the country on fast track basis. Bangladesh also decreased VAT on the spectrum by bringing it down to 5 per cent from 7.5 per cent.

Telecom industry has claimed that though India made good money from the auction but afterwards it could not achieve the targets regarding the expansion of the technology whereas Bangladesh provided some relief to the industry in terms of pricing but later the growth of the technology was observed very fast that added to the yearly income of the government through the taxes that it received.

The sources said that telecom operators, whether right or wrong, are apparently trying to convince the government to focus on the economic gains in the long term through the expansion of broadband on mobile phones instead of making good money once and then wait for a long time.

They have taken the plea that after spending huge money on the licences they definitely would not be able to spend more money on the installation of next generation equipments and even if they do, the price of broadband for the subscribers would be much higher that will squeeze the target market size for the operators and moreover the common man will also suffer in terms of having no access to the advanced technology that plays key role in the growth of an individual, business and country as well.

The sources also said that the government has taken the decision to earn around $1 billion at the time of the budget and has included the figure in the expected revenue. Apparently it seems not willing to renegotiate on its targets. But it also depends that how high the operators bid for the purchase of licences and what the terms government offers to the successful bidder. The final policy about the sale of next generation spectrum will be given by the Pakistan Telecom Authority that is yet to come.

It is also pertinent to mention here that the government knows it very well that based on the actual situation, only 3 operators at the most could win the next generation licences and there were 5 operators in the country already and new entrants were also allowed so the competition will be tough and operators will try to buy the licences at any price that is in their reach.

The sources said that considering it very plausible that the company without next generation spectrum licence might have to suffer in future, the government is very confident that it can make enough money from the next generation spectrum auction. And this is what the industry is trying to warn about that in such situation they might have to keep it very slow promoting the new technology that ultimately will cause the average subscribers to suffer in terms of lagging behind in the already imbalanced society.