PM and PTA chairman defend 3G auction plans, promise transparency and fairness

24 Feb 2012

Pakistan’s PM Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has made assurances that the government will ensure fair competition and transparency in the upcoming auction of 3G concessions in response to accusations that the tender would be ‘anti-competitive.’ The government is planning to auction the defunct Instaphone licence and three 3G authorisations on 27 March and 29 March respectively. If a new entrant purchases the Instaphone licence, they will then be eligible to bid for the 3G licences, though it would not be allowed to launch services until March 2013. The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology has questioned the process, however, saying that it is strongly skewed in favour of existing operators. Responding to the criticism, the chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) also defended the auction, saying that ‘it was the only option’: if the government had not restricted the entry of new players, it would transgress a previous agreement with Etisalat, and would face litigation.