Pakistan’s Finance Minister approved a proposal to auction off the 850MHz band before holding an auction for the 1.8GHz spectrum that was unsold in the 4G sale in 2014.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who chaired a high-level telecoms meeting, agreed that an appropriate amount of spectrum needs to be made available to the telecoms sector, the Pakistan Observer reported. No date or quantity was set for the proposed auction.
The meeting reviewed the spectrum demand outlook, while also considering the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s (PTA) market assessment report prepared by an international consultant.
The consultant hired by the telecoms regulator reported in December that the market is not ready for another auction. It found mobile operators are struggling with low margins and aren’t interested in investing in the spectrum within the next 12 months. The operators also complained about high taxes, low return on investments and weak economic growth.
The finance ministry pushed PTA to hold the auctions twice last year, but both times the sale was pushed back after all five operators said they would not participate.