Pakistan, which despite political turmoil and chronic energy shortages remains South Asia’s second-biggest economy, moved to modernize its mobile services infrastructure.
On April 23, the Telecommunication Authority (PTA) sold 3G and 4G licenses in a spectrum auction that raised over 800 million euros. The Pakistani government, which had been working on this process for the past four years, hopes that the deployment of state-of-the-art mobile technologies will benefit the country’s industries and businesses and create thousands of jobs. Licenses are issued for a period of 15 years.
Four existing operators – Telenor, China Mobile, Pakistan Mobile Communications’s Mobilink, and Pakistan Telecommunication’s Ufone – secured the new 3G licenses. China Mobile also won a 4G license. However, the proportion of 4G subscribers is expected to remain below 3% of the total mobile market in the coming two to three years given the expected higher tariffs for 4G services. The regulator has yet to decide whether to leave it to the market to determine the tariff or employ regulatory intervention.
The telecommunications market was deregulated in 2004, and the number of mobile-phone users in the South Asian nation grew to 132.33 million as of January of this year, from 12.7 million in 2005, according to the PTA.