State-owned telco Afghan Telecom (Aftel), which offers wireless services under the Salaam brand, has been awarded an additional 2×5MHz of spectrum in the 1800MHz band, following the completion of the country’s first spectrum auction last month. The Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA) put up for sale frequencies in the 1800MHz (three lots of 2×5MHz), 2100MHz (two lots of 2×5MHz) and 2600MHz (three lots of 2×10MHz) bands, with the intention of supplying the airwaves needed for operators to provide more advanced mobile broadband services. The majority of the licences went unsold, however, with Aftel emerging as the only winning bidder and paying the base price of USD17.2 million for its 15-year concession.
In a statement from the regulator, the ATRA noted that the auction was conducted in line with best practices, with the support of international regulatory and auction experts and following ‘an extensive process of consultation between industry and government’. Despite the poor showing in the recent tender, the regulator reiterated its commitment to promoting competition and the efficient use of spectrum resources.
Meanwhile, Aftel CEO Fawad Anwarzai was quoted as saying of the telco’s plans: ‘The company, after getting additional frequency for advanced telecom services, is busy on procurement process for upgrading equipment, and 4G service operations will be launched in five major cities in less than a year.’