Sector regulator the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has given conditional approval to the merger of mobile operators Mobilink and Warid. In its notice, the PTA included a raft of conditions and clarifications regarding the merger process. Notably, though, the watchdog made specific requirements regarding the decommissioning of unused base transceiver stations (BTS). The PTA ordered that all BTS sites of both companies should remain operational for a minimum of four months post-merger and that any unwanted sites must first be offered to other operators sharing the facilities. In the event that there are no other tenants, or they do not wish to acquire the surplus sites, Mobilink/Warid will ‘apply a judicial and transparent process to transfer ownership of the BTS sites to other telecom licensees, including tower licensees in order to avoid possible dismantling of BTS sites.’ Further, the combined entity must submit a new reference interconnection offer (RIO) to the PTA within six months of their merger, and any existing interconnection agreements between Warid and other licensees will be transferred to the enlarged company.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the merger was approved by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) in March this year, albeit with a number of caveats, including obliging the combined company to facilitate infrastructure sharing and to provide wholesale access to MVNOs.