Telecos disappointed with 3G policy directive | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Telecos disappointed with 3G policy directive

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: Most crucial players of the telecom industry of the country, telecommunication companies (telecos) have shown dissatisfaction over the performance of the government so far regarding the 3G auction, it was learnt by reliable sources on Tuesday.

While, the very first move of the government toward bringing next generation telecom technologies in the country by issuing policy directive regarding 3G auction could not make an impression on telecos at all. “The government has issued a very significant policy directive for the upcoming spectrum auction without any sort of consultation with core stakeholders like telecom operators and public,” said a telecom official.

Requesting anonymity, he said that it seems that the government objective is not to serve the public by deploying next generation technologies rather than only to generate hefty revenues, which could be judged by the content of the policy directives for the auction of 3G/next generation.

Last month Ministry of Information Technology and Telecom issued the policy directive for the auction of 3G/next generation telecom licences after taking approval from the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

While the growth of next generation technologies across the country solely depends on the telecom operators, it is incomprehensible that why the government did not consult them prior to the issuance of key directive. The end users (public), who will utilise the services, have also been neglected by the regulators.

Telecom sector has contributed more than Rs 510 billion as taxes in the last nine years but successive governments have squeezed the sector considering it a cash cow to hide their own inefficiencies, said the official.

Commenting on the content of policy directive, he said that policy document falls short of policy objectives, adding that composition of the Advisory Committee, its headed by the Finance Minister, which means only focus is maximum upfront fee as Ministry of Finance in the budget had already projected $1.2 billion from 3G auction.

He said that all mobile operators have technology neutral licences, so practically there is no need for a new licence document. He was amazed while saying that while the title of the document is ‘Auction for Next Generation Mobile’ services in Pakistan, although there is no indication in the document that when the next lots of spectrum will be released.

How many licences/spectrum blocks will be put to auction is also absent in the document, he added. Sharing of infrastructure should be on commercial terms as it’s currently in place and not just cost-based, added the official.

Commenting over the instruction included in the document that ‘existing licensee would provide national roaming on request by any new entrant(s) or as directed by Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), as deemed appropriate’ he said that sharing of national roaming may be encouraged on commercial terms but making it mandatory would be problematic as a new entrant having only 3G spectrum/licence will claim national roaming on 2G networks.

Document and sources hint that the government might make mandatory manufacturing, assembling and development of telecom equipment or terminal devices. If it’s applied then it would be a serious problem for operators because none of the operators are involved in the aforementioned businesses, said the official.

Daily Times