The Pakistani government has revealed plans to issue the country’s first 3G concessions in October 2011, with the state hoping that the sale process will generate as much as USD1 billion, according to Reuters. The report cites an unnamed senior official at the country’s Ministry of Information Technology (MIT) as saying: ‘A committee of the cabinet has agreed in principle to launch 3G services as soon as possible without any conditions.’ It is expected that the Economic Coordination Committee will, in the first week of August, give the go-ahead for an open auction for the 3G licences, with the sale itself to be conducted in mid- to late-October. According to other unnamed officials, the number of concessions that will be made available will be decided based on how much 3G spectrum is available, with one noting: ‘For instance, if we have 30MHz, it could be three licences of 10MHz each. If we have 20MHz, then it will be two licences.’ The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) will meanwhile advise the MIT regarding what spectrum is available next month. While it has not yet been confirmed whether the to-be-auctioned 3G licences will be offered only to existing operators, a PTA official did reportedly suggest that this could be the case.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Pakistan is the sixth largest wireless market in the Asia and Pacific region, and at the end of March 2011 its mobile network operators – which include Mobilink, Telenor Pakistan, Ufone, Warid and Zong – had more 106 million customers between them.