STAFF REPORT IBD: The announcement of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for the 3G licenses auction is a real hard time for the mobile network operators in the country in terms of choosing future strategy as only three licences are available against five companies operating in the country.
PTA is expecting 10 to 15 potential investors in the initial bidding process including the existing 5 operators. Another license of 2G and 5 Mhz band width would also be auctioned that earlier Instaphone used to own but was cancelled later.
PTA is launching 3 licenses of 10 Mhz speed each as a spectrum of 30 Mhz is available that cannot be divided on 5 companies. As the bid starts from $210 million, its really hard for all investors to choose the maximum limit of the bid to submit. Bidding for these licences is scheduled to be held on March 28-29.
“The PTA is not bound to facilitate all and the highest bidder would be entitled for the licence, whether new or the existing,” said a top official of the telecom authority.
He further said that the existing operators have also technology neutral licences but 3G equipment is not available in the market for the band they have.
Otherwise the existing operators have 13 Mhz bandwidth licences and if in future some company develops 3G equipment for the band those using 800 Mhz frequency can also start 3G services. The coming licences of 2100 Mhz frequency would also be technology neutral and the owner would be able to use it as per will and availability of technology.
According to a report on 3G technology, it reduces the cost of operators in many ways and one of them is that the 3G covers higher number of customers over the same bandwidth. For example in case of a company “Skylink” that reached one million subscribers profit while having only 70,000 users. No doubt it is a big difference the experts said. And it is not the end as companies would be able to launch mobile internet with high speed data transmission ability, video conferencing and many other services. That would increase their profitability, but for those who lose, the future might not be very bright. It is worth mentioning here that Pakistan last year had stood first in watching porn sites so would 3G spread this practice in the society more speedily and what PTA is planning to do on the issue?
At present there is Website Evaluation Committee headed by Secretary IT that considers the objections coming from masses and if find some site immoral then it passes a request to PTA that PTA ask the operator to restrict. But it was learnt that this system is not very efficient as the committee members have other assignments of their profession too.
It has also been learnt that in 2006 the Prevention of Electronic Crimes ordinance was promulgated on which the parliament was supposed to make legislation that it didnt do and the ordinance lapsed automatically after passing of 90 days.
Experts strongly suggest that foreseeing the coming future scenario, the government should establish an organization to strictly monitor objectionable contents on websites otherwise it might prove disaster for the society.
According to PTA, 111 million people (65 per cent of Pakistanis) are using mobile phones and that is a large number among the developing countries so use of 3G services is also expected to increase very fast.

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