The mobile phone service providers are growing more and more anxious because of the delay in their new licences with the deadline of the expiry of the current licences approaching fast. The Government has delayed the renewal by over a year at least. This could be a serious setback, also affecting phone users in the process.
The last licences were purchased in 2004 for a period of 15 years, due to expire in May for Telenor and Jazz (and Warid) AND IN October for Zong. These licences allowed the telecom operators to comply to international standards and would continue to do so when their licences get renewed. Additionally, its not just a matter of licences but also of spectrums which need to be sold to these operators so that the increasing load of the customer data could be handled more efficiently. Currently, the state of spectrums in this nation of drastically increasing population is like a traffic jam and the quality might continue to decline if more spectrums weren’t allocated soon.
“The government was supposed to introduce a licence renewal framework about one and a half year ago as per Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) laws. However, it is still awaited,” an official of one of the three cellular phone companies, whose licences are expiring in the near future stated.
The Government not only wants to sell the spectrum licences but do it at a handsome price to generate revenues which hasn’t gone down well the cellular companies who are striving to digitalise Pakistan and to increase the accessibility of high-speed data transfers throughout Pakistan. This is an era of high-speed data, which requires basic tech infrastructure to boost economic development, e-commerce, e-business models and digitalisation of services.With teledensity of 84% in Pakistan, the telecom industry’s growth has stagnated in voice category.
Comparing Pakistan with other nations, it has failed to provide the spectrums at a quicker rate which has slowed down the overall progress in this sector. Countries like Japan have been very active in regards to providing for the technological needs of the local industry and the population. Price tags on these spectrums should not be way too high that the spectrum remains unsold due to the unwillingness of any company to buy, just what happened in India at the last auction.
“The government needs to create a right balance where the country gets fair revenue and companies operate at competitive prices,” a market expert said. “A futuristic approach is the key to socio-economic progress in the country.”Pakistan has lots of unused spectrum, which is like providing the right of way in the air. The country has issued less than 40% spectrum while the rest is unused and it is not something like oil which will finish if consumed.
DELAY IN LICENCES A CAUSE OF CONCERN FOR TELECOM OPERATORS
The Government should be speeding up the process for licence approval so that future increase in number of users could be accommodated without any decline in the quality of data speeds.