The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has confirmed that bidding for a pair of mobile licences will begin on 14 April, having pushed the date back from 18 March at the request of a number of potential investors. According to the regulator, in excess of 30 national and international companies have expressed interest in the licences, which will compete with the four existing players, Mobilink, Pakcom, Ufone and Paktel. The regulator appears at pains to convince potential bidders, that the country can sustain six wireless players into the long term, pointing out that Pakistan had a wireless penetration rate of 2.46% at the end of 2003, short of the country’s wireline teledensity of 2.79%. The PTA has sought to dispel fears about the country’s frequent change of policies in regard to wireless telephony, claiming that there will be no more changes for at least five years. Moreover, the PTA has issued assurances that the newcomers will be allowed to compete on a level playing field and will be offered full protection from discriminatory behaviour.
The wireless licences are not the only concessions up for grabs in Pakistan next month. The PTA is also holding a tender for the award of local loop and long-distance international licences. Applications for the concessions are due to be submitted to the PTA by the end of the month.