Pakistan raises US$279m in telecom spectrum sales

22 September 2021

A mobile phone user in Karachi

A mobile phone user in Karachi

Pakistan said it raised US$279m in a sale of telecom spectrum at the base price, with Pakistan Telecommunications Mobile the sole bidder in an auction that was boycotted by the country’s three other major phone operators.

Pakistan Telecom’s unit Ufone secured nine megahertz in the 1,800 megahertz band, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said. The operator will pay half the bid amount within 15 days and the rest over five years, according to the statement. The total value of both bands of spectrum on offer was US$832m at base price, the regulator said, adding that no offer was made for the 2,100 megahertz band.

Jazz, a unit of Veon, China Mobile Ltd.’s Zong and Telenor Pakistan - which are all in a legal battle with the regulator over renewal of their existing spectrum fees - snubbed the process. It was the first such auction since Prime Minister Imran Khan came to power three years ago. Veon chief executive officer Kaan Terzioglu previously  said Pakistan’s telecom spectrum should be priced in rupees rather than dollars as the pricing is not sustainable.

The spectrum policy, pricing and rollout obligations deterred Telenor from participating in the airwaves sale, spokesman Saad Warriach said after the bidding was closed Thursday. “The existing circumstances did not present the economic viability to invest in the spectrum during this year’s auction,” he said.

Pakistan’s mobile subscriber’s base has reached 84.4% of the country’s 220 million population, according to PTA data.