The government is unlikely to attract many new entrants in the upcoming auction of the Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) spectrum. This is because neither the exclusive band nor longer period was offered to fulfill the rollout obligations, while four major mobile operators are already in the market.

Senior officials at the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MOIT&T) revealed this while talking to ProPakistani in the backdrop of spectrum policy and Information Memorandum (IM) issued for the upcoming auction.

 

In the previous auction, 2×7.38 MHz of paired spectrum in the 850 MHz band was offered exclusively for new entrant(s) only aimed at attracting new players in the market.

Furthermore, new entrants in the cellular mobile market were also offered a longer period to fulfill rollout obligations. Despite these incentives, no new entrant participated in the last auctions.

The spectrum auction policy and IM for the upcoming have no such incentives and seems difficult that any new player may opt for participating in the auction.

When contacted Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) senior officials and sought a response on the matter, they stated, “PTA has issued the Information Memorandum for consultation with potential applicants in line with the government of Pakistan Policy Directions dated 4th August 2021.”

They said, “PTA has given sufficient time for consultation as per international practice and also online with PPRA Rules. Spectrum made available is in 1800 and 2100 MHz bands and open for all existing and new entrants without imposing any limitations on new entrants. The IM provides facilitation to New Entrants and encourages for national roaming negotiations with existing CMOs, new entrants can also benefit from Spectrum trading, Spectrum sharing and Infrastructure sharing guidelines once available for all market players.”

“Moreover, efforts are being made for attracting new entrants through relevant fora, print and social media. PTA remains open and committed for consultation with potential stakeholders with regards to Spectrum Auction, where necessary and required,” the official added.

According to the IM available on the PTA website, the spectrum auction will enable market entry, innovation, and competition through several government policies and directives.

These include, but are not limited to:

All the existing CMOs and potential new entrant(s) may apply to participate in the Auction process; a potential new entrant in the Cellular Mobile Market gaining spectrum in the spectrum auction is encouraged to negotiate national roaming with existing CMOs.

If PTA determines that a licensee possesses significant market power (SMP) in a relevant geographical market, the Licensee shall comply with orders/decisions of PTA that are intended to prohibit abuse of its SMP position through anti-competitive conduct or to promote competition in respect of that relevant market or markets ancillary thereto. These include certain remedies specified in the license.

All CMOs are encouraged to provide national roaming to another operator on request, in the interest of quick rollout of services in the country, specifically in rural areas, national highways/motorways, and to achieve the objective of Universal Services Fund.

CMOs shall use their best efforts to enter into the necessary agreements with foreign operators to enable and provide international roaming to their subscribers.

CMOs must follow PTA guidelines/direction(s) on international roaming, which may be issued from time to time.

CMOs are required to share their existing and future infrastructure with other operators, on request by that other operator.

As a minimum, the infrastructure to be shared shall be: site sharing and mast sharing; and CMOs may enter into commercial arrangements with each other for active sharing. However, such arrangement shall not take effect until the relevant guidelines are in place and subject to the formal approval and comprehensive framework of PTA.

 

CMOs may enter into commercial arrangements with each other for Spectrum Sharing and Trading. However, such arrangement shall not take effect until it is approved by the PTA as per the framework developed under the GoP Policy.

Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) CMOs are encouraged to support MVNO Services, as required under the framework prepared and published by PTA from time to time.

Numbering resources already allocated to CMOs may also be used for the spectrum awarded in the Spectrum Auction.

A New Entrant can request numbering series as per the procedure and regulations devised by PTA. New Entrants in the Cellular Mobile Market shall be provided a unique network identity code.