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Pakistan to hold 3G, 4G auctions in April: finance minister

Islamabad: Pakistan will hold long-awaited auctions for 3G and 4G telecoms licences this April, the finance minister said on Friday, a step that could help boost the cash-strapped country’s foreign reserves.

A 3G licence will cost $295 million and a 4G licence will cost $210 million, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said.

He said the government would be looking for full payment, or a 50 per cent payment with the rest to be paid in five equal installments over five years, with an interest rate of three per cent.

As per the instructions of the Minister of IT, the officers are trying to do communication with the operators. We need to understand that the government has some objectives as well as compulsions. But at the same time, we also need to design this auction in a way that operators feel their investment will be worthwhile. As a regulatory body, we don't want any wrangling between the government and the operators. We would like to have a win-win proposition for both of them.

International consultants are currently working on preparing the Information Memorandum (IM) for the spectrum auction: They are also holding meetings with various stakeholders in the process. The auction modalities have not been finalised yet, so I cannot give you a precise answer on the specifics. What I can tell you though is that the draft IM will be released around mid-February. After that, we will give the stakeholders two weeks for their feedback. We will also try to include feedback from the last such IM which was released in January 2012.

There are about 132 million mobile phones in use in Pakistan, a country of 180 million people, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

The telecommunications market was deregulated in 2004 and foreign firms such as Etisalat have invested heavily in recent years.

Source: Reuters




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