The four cellular service providers bidding on licences for next generation mobile technology are Mobilink, Telenor, Ufone and Zong the former three picked up licenses for 3G services while Zong being the only bidder to acquire a licence for both 3G and 4G services.
Mobilink and Zong bid for the ‘superior’ 10MHz band, while Telenor and Ufone preferred to bid on the cheaper 5MHz band. Although Mobilink, having acquired the 10MHz band, qualified for a 4G licence too, they opted not to go all the way.
This means one 4G licence is still up for grabs. Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman said that the licence would soon go under the hammer again.
Bidding began at 10am and continued until a little after 7pm at the Marriott Hotel. Bidders competed in eight rounds of 45 minutes each. A total of four 3G licences were auctioned and both Telenor and Ufone got the ‘shorter end’ of the spectrum.
“It was a strategic decision. We want to provide internet services for all our customers but at low costs. The 5MHz frequency is all that is required at the moment,” said Telenor Pakistan Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Muhammad Aslam Hayat.
Ufone had also shown an interest in acquiring both 3G and 4G licences, but on the day, they did not qualify. Under PTA rules, Ufone has to purchase the 10MHz band to be eligible for a 4G licence.
According to a Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) spokesperson, cellular companies with weaker frequencies would have to install more booster towers in their coverage areas, depending on how many cities they wanted to cover.