3G auction delay caused Rs 35b loss
ISLAMABAD: The process to auction third-generation (3G) mobile telecom licenses is expected to be completed by December this year with expected contribution of around Rs 300 billion to national exchequer through direct spectrum and infrastructure development.
The direct spectrum auction is expected to bring around more than Rs 100 billion while infrastructure development can fetch about Rs 200 billion, besides generating thousands of job opportunities for the unemployed. The introduction of new technology in cellular mobile area would also facilitate the subscribers with new and innovative services in different domains including education and agriculture which is a backbone of national economy.
New chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Farooq Awan was quite optimistic about the early introduction of 3G or 4G technology when asked about its prospects, benefits and potential in Pakistan where mobile phone customers base is around 120 million and users are enjoying services in a competitive environment at affordable.
Giving a briefing to Information Technology and Telecom Reporters Association, Farooq Awan, who recently took charge as PTA chairman, said the delay in auction of 3G licenses for more than two years has caused losses of Rs 35 billion to national kitty which would be probed. The auction would be open to five existing mobile operators as well as potential new entrants. “Had the auction process been completed in 2010, the government could have avoided losses of Rs 35 billion. It is a criminal negligence and loss to the national kitty would be probed at the appropriate forum,” he said and assured the usage right of Third Generation (3G) technology will be auctioned according to a laid down procedure in a transparent manner. Farooq Awan said all the process of auction will be made public and all the information regarding the procedure and development of 3G auction will be available on a website and to the media.
He said PTA is putting in place an integrity pact and an independent monitoring committee comprising of media and civil society representatives to accomplish transaction of auctioning (3G) technology and ensure transparency. Farooq Awan said the auction size and block will also be decided through integrity pact as it will be first ever government transaction with integrity pact and independent monitoring committee comprising of media representatives and civil society.
The auction for 3G mobile spectrums was supposed to be held in March this year, but was postponed. Now PTA has time to improve terms and conditions of the auction to solicit more interest and to optimize the future stream of revenues for the govt.
Answering a question, he said currently his focus is on auction of 3G spectrum. But at the same he would also concentrate on attracting the companies to manufacture mobile phones in Pakistan for which Pakistan spends more than a billion dollars on their import per year.
On the issue of grey telephony, PTA chief was optimistic to control this menace provided arrangement of new and modern equipment. He said only 30 per cent area in illegal trafficking is covered and for its full control PTA would arrange new gadgets to save billions of rupees losses to the national economy.
Farooq Awan said he would soon call a meeting of PTA’s concerned officers to make a new strategy so as to check the remaining 70 per cent area and to fully control the grey telephony.
“We will see all the areas including training, purchase of new equipment etc. to make the monitoring system more efficient and reliable,” Farooq Awan said.
On the issue of unethical contents, he said soon a meeting with the mobile phone operators would be convened. The basic objective of PTA is to facilitate the consumers as well as the operators in different telecom domains and in this regard the regulator would utilize all its energies and resources to achieve the task.
The PTA chief also assured appropriate measures to revamp a complaint cell in PTA which was established to address IT and telecom consumers’ complaints in a speedy manner.