• December 30th, 2011
  • Dafiq Hussein

According to reports in The Express Tribune, the Information Technology Ministry has direct the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) to instigate a 3G mobile internet auction within the next 3 months.

With many countries around the world already having completed 3G auctions and looking forward to 4G, Pakistan are looking to quickly catch up and service the growing demand for mobile internet access in the country.

The IT Ministry, which has issued the notice for an auction, is headed up by Yousaf Raza Gilani, the countries Prime Minister. The new committee in charge of supervising the 3G auction will be chaired by Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and will also include Privatisation Minister Ghous Bux Mahar, the Water and Power Minister Naveed Qamar, the Finance Secretary Waqar Masood and the IT Secretary Saeed Ahmed Khan.

The reason the short notice and heavy importance is being placed upon this 3G auction is that not only would the purchase of a 3G contract generate revenue for the country but it would also attract foreign investment from global telecoms companies.

The telecommunications industry has already provided the Pakistan government with a strong source of revenue in recent years, with mobile telecommunications contracts from companies based in Abu Dhabi and Norway bringing in around $291 million in 2004 and a growing interest from other international countries looking to offer cheap calls to Pakistan. However, the new 3G auction could eclipse this as one of the biggest telecommunications contracts the country has ever seen.

On the other side of the auction, the five mobile service providers in Pakistan are eagerly awaiting the auction, as a 3G license will enable them to offer more online capability to their users and increase online revenue from their mobile contracts.

However, despite excitement on both sides about the 3G auction there is still one stumbling block that may prevent it from going ahead. In 2006 the government sold management control of the state owned Pakistan Telecommunications Company and promised no more auctions until March 2013.

The new auction would go against this, but the country is desperate to begin competing in the 3G market and so may work around this by limiting bids to companies already operating in Pakistan, until March 2013, in order to start generating revenue and putting 3G in place.

Unless any of the major telecoms companies bring up litigation against this auction, we should see 3G arriving in Pakistan very soon.