3G plans make progress; full chairman appointed to the PTA

14 Nov 2013

Pakistan has made steps towards launching the long-awaited 3G spectrum auction, Pro Pakistani writes. Sector regulator the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has received seven bids from consultancy firms to advise on the sale, and will now carry out an evaluation of their technical and financial proposals before selecting a consultant on 20 November. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the nation’s most recent attempt to sell 3G airwaves collapsed in early 2012 after the PTA botched the selection of a consultant by bypassing regulations, thereby raising suspicions of foul play. The PTA hopes to begin the 3G licence auction in late February 2014.

The acting chairman of the PTA, Dr Ismail Shah, has also been appointed as the permanent chairman for the regulator, following an order from the Supreme Court for the government to assign someone to head the watchdog. The appointment brings to a close nearly a year of instability at the PTA, after the previous chairman was deemed ineligible to hold the post and was dismissed in January 2013, which was followed a month later by the retirement of the regulator’s two most senior officials, the Member Technical and Member Financial. A protracted back-and-forth between the cabinet and the courts over the regulator’s leadership – during which the government attempted to return the dismissed former-chairman to the driving seat of the PTA – left the watchdog largely unable to carry out its official duties.