The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has finally confirmed the date for the long-delayed auction of third-generation concessions, with the regulator announcing that the sale will take place on 29 March 2012. According to The Express Tribune, PTA chairman Dr Mohammad Yaseen has confirmed that a pre-bid conference regarding the 3G licence sale will be held on 2 March, while the qualification process for would-be bidders is expected to be completed by 12 March. A deposit of USD31.5 million from those bidders approved to take part is then due by 22 March, in advance of the 29 March sale date. Three third-generation concessions are to be made available, each of which will be valid for a 15-year period, and the government has set a base price of USD210 million for each licence. The sale process will be open to both those operators already active in the Pakistani wireless sector, as well as to new players, and Dr Yaseen has noted that each bidder may win a maximum of two licences. In line with previous reports meanwhile, it has also been confirmed that the winners of the new concessions will only be allowed to launch commercial services using the frequencies after March 2013, when a moratorium on new licensing expires. The auction itself will be conducted over multiple rounds, using the open outcry method, and commenting on the process Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Pakistan’s finance minister, noted: ‘I make a commitment that the process will be totally transparent and merit will prevail.’
Alongside the 3G auction, the state has also confirmed plans for the sale of the licence previously held by now-defunct Pakcom (Instaphone). A base price of USD155 million for the concession has been set, with a deposit of USD23.28 million due for those companies wishing to take part in the auction. The licence will be valid for eight years. Further, the government has reiterated its intention to sell of wireless in the local loop (WiLL) spectrum, although it has stipulated that such frequencies will only be made available to existing operators. A pre-bid conference for such spectrum is expected to take place next month.