Prime Minister accords in principle approval to 3G policy for telecom sector

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday approved the 3G (third generation) policy in principle for the upgradation of country’s telecom sector and directed the Cabinet Committee to bring the policy before the Cabinet for its final approval. The Prime Minister accorded in principle approval while presiding over a meeting on 3G and Grey Traffic and Additional Spectrum auction for Wireless Local Loop here at the Prime Minister House.

The Ministry of Information Technology gave a presentation on recommendations formulated by the Cabinet Committee comprising Minister for Finance Dr Hafeez Sheikh, Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar, and Minister for Privatization Ghous Baksh Mehr and Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr. Asim Hussain.

The Cabinet Committee’s recommendations pertain to the auction of 3G frequencies and defunct Instaphone licence along with allocated frequency simultaneously but in quick succession. To encourage competition, new international players as well as existing operators would also be invited for Instaphone licence auction being the sixth of the existing licensee in the country and not a new licensee.

Furthermore, it was decided that three blocks of 10 MHz (megahertz) each out of available 3G spectrums would be immediately offered for auction and existing operators can participate in this round as well.

New players will also be invited but with provision that if new player is successful in bid then they would be eligible to resume operation only after March 2013 when moratorium on new licensing as per previous cabinet committee decision would expire. It was also decided that more spectrum would be made available for ¾ G services and offered for auction with the provision that winners of such auction will be awarded licenses and allocated frequencies by March 2013 and as such will be able to start their services thereafter.

In order to ensure professionalism and transparency, it was also decided that a committee of public sector stakeholders, including representatives from the ministries of Finance and Information Technology, PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) and representative of Frequency Allocation Board would supervise auction process. The PTA would devise an appropriate methodology to conduct varying component of this auction as decided under the supervision of the Committee.

On the issue of Grey Traffic, it was decided that the Cabinet Committee would consider this issue and put the recommendations to the Prime Minister for approval. Other senior officials of the relevant ministries also attended the meeting.

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