Pakistan’s efforts to generate revenue from a spectrum auction was once again met with tepid demand, with the country’s largest mobile operator Jazz the sole bidder for a 10MHz block of paired 1.8GHz spectrum.
Jazz, with a 37 per cent market share, submitted a bid at the reserve price set by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), The Express Tribune reported. The PTA in March set a reserve price of $295 million for the 1.8GHz spectrum, which was the second block of unsold 3G/4G spectrum put up for sale by the regulator.
An auction in 2014 of 850MHz, 1.8GHz, and 1.9GHz to 2.1GHz spectrum left two blocks unsold in the 850MHz and 1.8GHz bands.
Telenor, the country’s second largest operator, acquired the 850MHz spectrum in June 2016 for the base price of $395 million after making the only bid for the 4G spectrum. Three of the country’s four largest operators – Jazz (previously Mobilink), Ufone and China Mobile’s Zong – opted not to participate in the auction.
The government’s push to hold the auctions came despite a report from a consultant hired by the telecoms regulator concluding the market was not ready for another auction.
In Q1 Jazz finalised its acquisition of Warid, which had 640,000 4G subscribers. Jazz increased its 4G base to 800,000 at end Q1, according to PTA.
Zong, the third largest operator in the country with a 20 per cent share, is the 4G leader with 3.4 million LTE users. Telenor Pakistan, which holds a 28 per cent market share, launched 4G in Q3 2016 and had about 230,000 LTE customers at the end of Q1, according to PTA.
PTCL, which operates under the Ufone brand (14 per cent share), is yet to launch 4G service.