Telenor signs licence renewal template

13 Dec 2021

Norwegian-owned cellco Telenor Pakistan has reportedly signed the GSM licence renewal template issued by sector watchdog the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) ‘under protest and without prejudice’, adding that it reserves the right to continue seeking a legal resolution to its dispute with the regulator over the terms of the renewal. Local news outlets cite a statement from the provider as saying that its dispute with the PTA is sub-judice before the Supreme Court and that, whilst it will continue to with its challenge, it has signed the PTA’s licence template ‘to ensure greater certainty’ to the continuity of its operations.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Telenor and fellow licensee Jazz challenged the PTA’s decision to impose a last-minute price hike on their concessions in early 2019, shortly before the licences were due for renewal. The watchdog had published its policy for the renewals in the same month that the licences were due to expire and increased the cost to nearly USD450 million. By comparison, the PTA had charged state-backed provider Ufone USD291 million for the renewal of its concession in 2016. Both providers continued to make licence payments based on the PTA’s new charges whilst pursuing their legal challenges against the PTA. The appeal was dismissed by the IHC in August this year, however, on the basis that it is within the scope of the regulator’s power to set licence fees. For its part, Jazz completed its licence renewal in October, at which date the PTA confirmed that the concession was renewed at a price of USD449.2 million – USD333.64 million of which had already been paid. The updated concession also included enhanced terms and conditions for coverage and service quality, the regulator added.