STAFF REPORT ISB: Pakistani operator Warid Telecom has pledged a network investment of $470 million during the next five years aimed at upgrading its current 2.5G network to 4G.

Commenting on the five-year investment – which began at the start of the operators financial year in July – Warids CFO Tariq Gulzar said: “Over the last 2-3 years, when we were going through the MandA process, we were a little dormant, we were holding back on those investments which were now going through.”

Warid declined to bid in Pakistans recent round of auctions for 3G and 4G spectrum, with Gulzar claiming: “Warid always had enough spectrum available to launch 4G/LTE service.”

The operator can technically launch services do this as its licence is technology-neutral, but it does not have a service-neutral licence so it will require approval from regulator PTA before it can begin offering commercial 4G services.

It may also face objections from its rivals Mobilink, China Mobile, PTCL and Telenor. The four operators collectively paid over $1 billion in the recent spectrum auctions and are unlikely to tolerate Warid offering 4G services without paying such a fee.

Gulzar undercut this official announcement by claiming that the deployment was at a more advanced stage. He stated that the 4G is currently being tested in several major cities and a commercial launch will commence in the next few weeks.

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