Pakistan’s telecommunication sector is progressing at a fast pace under the Government of Pakistan policies. The public has been relying on phone and broadband services more and more over recent years, and the Covid-19 pandemic has brought this reliance into even sharper view. To enhance the rapid take off of mobile broadband services even further in Pakistan, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) initiated a process of auctioning additional spectrum for Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) in line with Government of Pakistan Policy considering the market demand. The Government of Pakistan announced the policy for Next Generation Spectrum Auction on 4th August, 2021.
PTA started the process for hiring reputed international consultants to design and manage the auction process on September 30th, 2020. After meeting all the procedural requirements and PPRA Rules, Frontier Economics Pvt Limited ( A UK Based Firm) was selected from among eleven applicants based on the highest technical qualification and lowest financial bid. The contract with the consultants was signed on 13th Jan 2021. PTA has ensured that entire process from hiring the consultants to auction design and implementation is transparent, efficient and according to the very best international practices. To this end, Frontier Economics and PTA held detailed consultations with all stakeholders during the entire process to ensure obtaining best input and formulating recommendations for Government of Pakistan.
Entire Process was overseen by an Auction Advisory Committee of the Government, having representation of all stake holders beside PTA and FAB.
Spectrum Auction Process
Based on the Policy Directive, received on 4 Aug 2021, PTA published the Information Memorandum on 5th August 2021, developed together with Frontier Economics. A total of 27.8 MHz was offered as part of the auction: 12.8 MHz in the 1800 MHz band ( Desirable by all Operators) and 15 MHz in 2100 MHz band ( In case any Operator do not get any Spectrum in 1800 MHz, he can obtain in 2100 MHz).
Spectrum Auction Design
1800 MHz Band:
Band comprises a total of 75 MHz Spectrum, out of which 55.6 MHz was already awarded to the Operators, whereas 6.6 MHz is currently subjudice and cannot be placed in Auction. Remaining 12.8 MHz, which was considered for Auction was fragmented and not concentrated at one place. Thus generic Blocks were made, to create appetite for Operators, so that every Operator can actively participate in the Auction. Operators agreed with PTA, that irrespective of the Auction result or participation by any Operator, PTA will allocate the won spectrum adjacent to Current holding by any Operator, and other operators will shift up or down in the band if required without any compensation.
PTA has ensured a transparent and fair process. It has hired a reputed international consultancy firm: Frontier Economics to assist PTA in the entire auction process and the auction mechanism was designed based on best international practices and in accordance with the PPRA rules and regulations.