PTA renews mobile network operator license for $486m

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has renewed the license of a mobile network operator that committed the highest-ever investment in the telecom sector.

According to a statement, Pakistan Mobile Communication Limited (PMCL) – commonly known as Jazz – got its licence renewed for 15 years with a fee of $486.2 million.

Out of the total fee, 50% ($243.1 million or Rs44.54 billion) has been deposited by the telecom operator, while the remaining amount will be paid in five equal annual installments along with the applicable markup.

The renewed licence has enhanced terms and conditions for coverage and quality of service, the statement said.

As per the policy directive, the renewal of licence is expected to generate $486.2 million, and the payment terms would be 100% upfront or 50% upfront with remaining 50% in five equal annual installments on London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) plus 3%.

The mobile network operator was awarded a 15-year operating licence in 2007, which was set to expire in July this year.

Jazz CEO Aamir Hafeez Ibrahim, in a tweet, underlined that the company committed $486 million to renew its spectrum for another 15 years, which was “the largest investment in the history of telecom sector in Pakistan”.

It would improve the services provided to 75 million customers, he said.

The highest-ever commitment in the sector was due to a high benchmark and price set during the spectrum auction in 2021.

“At the last spectrum auction, for each megahertz (MHz) frequency was $39.5 million for 900 MHz and $31 million for 1,800 MHz, and Jazz has a large spectrum base that is set to expire in July 2022.”

The licence has been renewed under the policy of technology neutrality, allowing the flexibility to the company to adopt any upcoming technology in the sector, the statement said.

The company has made an investment of more than $10 billion in the country, including $560 million after the merger of two companies (Mobilink and Warid) for improvement of “quality of service”.

“The bulk of investment has been made in infrastructure development, including laying 25,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables around the country, installation of telecom equipment and in the training of a competent workforce,” the statement said.

This news was originally published by The Express Tribune.