Next-generation licence: Govt raises over $1.1 billion in spectrum auction

Published: April 23, 2014

PTA chairperson addressing the audience. PHOTO: AZAM KHAN

PTA chairperson addressing the audience. PHOTO: AZAM KHAN All eyes are set on today's auction whereby the government will sell 3G and 4G licences to cellular service providers. PHOTO:AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The long awaited auction of Pakistan’s digital spectrum stayed on track after sale of 3G and 4G licences raised over $1.1 billion in the auction on Wednesday, opening the door for next-generation communication technology in the country. Though disappointingly, only one 4G licences was bought.

All the four local telecom companies, who had qualified for the economy, managed to win a slice of 3G spectrum (2100 MHz) pie put on offer. Zong though managed to claim one of the two 4G licences (1800 MHz each).

Zong was the highest bidder in the 3G auciton, claiming a 10 MHz 3G band licence, qualifying for the 4G licence.

Mobilink bagged the other 10 MHz 3G licence on the auction block. It did not bid for the 4G licence.

Ufone, which had initially bid for the 15 MHz of 3G band, got 5 Mhz band of 3G. However, due to the way it initially bid, it was disqualified for the 4G licence bid.

Telenor Pakistan won a 5 MHz 3G licence.

The government managed to raise $902.8 million from the 3G auction and another $210 million from the 4G licence auction.

Talking to media after the auction, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that the remaining licence in the 1800 MHz band and one license reserved for new entrants will be sold in the coming months, which would fetch additional income.

If sold, the total money raised from the spectrum auction will cross the expected revenue target of $1.3 billion.

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End of live updates

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8:30pm

The winners for the 3G and 4G spectrum auction have been announced.

Zong won 10Mhz for the 3G spectrum and 10Mhz for the 4G spectrum, while Mobilink won 10Mhz for the 3G spectrum. Ufone and Telenor both won 5Mhz for the 3G spectrum.

Ufone’s CEO Abdul Aziz said that they had been pushing for 3G technology for a while now and that they were happy the auction had had a positive result.

8:17pm

8:00pm

Safe to assume that all four operators have managed to win one of the offered bands of 3G.

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6:50pm

There are unconfirmed reports that one 4G licence might be sold today as well.

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6:40pm

No new bids were placed in Round 7. Round 8 will be conducted shortly, after which Finance Minister Ishaq Dar will address the media at around 7:30pm.

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6:00pm

Round 7 has reportedly been delayed. Results are expected to be updated at around 6:15pm.

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5:50pm

There is confusion about whether the auction will go on to day two or will conclude today.

According to a top PTA official, if no new bids are placed at the end of the Round 7, the PTA will announce the results for both 3G and 4G today.

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5:10pm

The figures remain unchanged at the end of Round 6.

According to DG Commercial Affairs PTA Dr Mohammad Saleem, if no new bids are placed for three rounds, the PTA may conclude the auction.

“60 percent to 70 percent of the auction process is complete,” he added.

Colin Brooks, associate partner with Value Partners Management Consulting Limited, one of the firms consulting the PTA, said that the auction was transparent, efficient and timely, and will probably meet its intended target.

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4:35pm

3:55pm

According to the PTA website, the results have not changed after Round 5.

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2:55pm

Round 5 results are expected at 3:45pm.

The market talk is that the PTA is looking good for $1.3 billion.

With free tea and snacks available at the event, the atmosphere at the auction is festive and the PTA chairperson looks upbeat as he mingles with the attendees.

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2:45pm

Round 4 saw bidding only for Block A, in which the bid increased by $6.02 million.

This brings the total bid of all four blocks at end of Round 4 to $902.82 million, a total increase of $17.82 million from Round 1.

There is still no interest shown in Blocks B and C.

Considering how slowly the auction is moving, it might go on for another day.

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2:30pm

According to an information and communications technology (ICT) expert, the auction is going according to PTA’s expectations and the government is likely to generate revenue between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion.

The expert added that currently the operators are bidding on 10MHz blocks (A and D) and once the the companies feel they could lose out in the bid, they will then switch to the 5MHz blocks (B and C) which have not shown any change throughout the three rounds.

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2:12pm

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2:07pm

PTA chairperson while speaking to The Express Tribune said he is hopeful that the government will raise at least $1.1 billion from the auction.

The telecommunication officials also said that the auction may be extended till tomorrow or even day after it.

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2:00pm

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1:55pm

The results of the spectrum auction will determine whether or not the auction was a success. But for PTA this is a big test – after all this is the job PTA’s chief and his team were trusted with by the finance ministry.

In his budget speech for fiscal 2014, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had set a target of $1.2 billion under non-tax revenues, which was supposed to be earned from the auction of 3G licences.

Dar went one step further in January this year and said the government was expecting to raise $2 billion from the auction, which was later reduced to $1.3m after the absence of any new entrant.

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1:47pm

The fourth round of bidding is underway and the results are expected around 2pm.

4G technology has already been deployed in 101 countries.

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1:25pm

In the third round, PTA received a total bid of $896.8 million. The bid for lot A increased by $5.9 million. The results can be viewed below:

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1:15pm

If one of the four bidders – who are each bidding for four blocks – bids higher on a second block, they will get that too. This means that one company can lose out in the auction.

Therefore, all bidders have to be careful when they keep their bids the same in each round – in case someone swoops in and bids higher for the block they are bidding the base price for.

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1:00pm

The bidding for the third phase of the auction is ongoing and the result is expected to be announced at 1:30pm.

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12:45pm

Expressing their frustration, some of the people seem to be bored with the auction drama and cannot wait to find out the result of the spectrum auction.

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12:35pm

The second phase of bidding is also complete. There has been an increase in the total bid as compared to the first phase of bidding. The results can be viewed below:

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12:30pm

The CEOs of telecom companies participate in the spectrum auction from their offices.

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12:20pm

The PTA Chairperson Syed Ismail Shah addresses the attendees at the spectrum auction.

A lot excitement and buzz can be seen at the Marriot hotel in Islamabad at this historic moment.

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12:10pm

PTA has organised the viewing of online bidding at Marriot in Islamabad. As big screens flicker with bidding activity, journalists, politicians and members of civil society gather together to witness what many called a historic moment.

The successful auction of 3G and 4G spectrums is expected to create more than 900,000 jobs in the country’s telecom sector.……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

12:00pm

According to RadioPakistan, PTA has received $885 million in the first phase of bidding for the 3G and 4G auction.

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11:50am

It is hoped that next generation mobile services will enable higher GDP growth and introduce more innovative e-services, such as E-medicine and E-education.

The deployment of 4G technologies will also provide our engineers and technician opportunities to acquire the latest skills and become competitive in the international market.

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11:40am

The auction is being carried out under the Simultaneous Multiple Round Ascending (SMRA) mechanism.

Under the SMRA mechanism, all lots are auctioned simultaneously over a series of rounds. Bids are submitted on individual lots at the announced prices in each round, at the end of which a standing high bidder is identified for each lot.

The standing high bidder is committed to the lot and cannot withdraw – he is only released when outbid by another bidder. When a lot receives at least one bid, the price for the lot increases in the next round.

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11:35am

All four bids for the 3G auction have been committed. The bidding for the auction of the 4G spectrum will now start.

More than 160 countries have already launched 3G mobile services including Afghanistan.

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11:20am:

People on twitter express disappointment over the fact that Warid – one of the main telecom companies in Pakistan – is not participating in the auction.

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11:10am

All the four existing telecom companies who had submitted bids 3G and 4G spectrum licences had qualified for the auction.

After scrutiny of submitted bids, China Mobile (Zong), PTML (UFone), Mobilink and Telenor Pakistan qualified for the bidding. Warid, the fifth local telecom operator, did not participate in the bidding process.

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11:00am

Number of active 3G subscriptions have surpassed one billion, according to experts. Third-generation mobile services is now a decade old technology.

People on twitter question why it took Pakistan so long:

10:55am

The base prices for 3G and 4G licences have been set at $295 million per 10MHz and $210 million per 10MHz respectively.

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10:50am

The first phase of the auction has begun.

In order to ensure transparency, the PTA has decided to keep the auction web-based which will not require the physical presence of the four cellular mobile operators (CMOs) participating in the bidding process.

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10:45am

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10:40am

The bidding will take place in 5 phases, each 45 minutes long.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has put on sale 30MHz of spectrum in 3G [2100MHz] band and 20MHz of spectrum in 4G [1800MHz] band.

Reader Comments (56)

  • Dr. Gulfam Javed
    Apr 23, 2014 - 10:46AM

    Thanks God…… finally we are going to get something…. please unblock youtube as well

    Recommend

  • Anoni
    Apr 23, 2014 - 10:50AM

    Keep us posted.

    ET . .kindly explain the transperence process as well

    Recommend

  • Sajjad Hussain
    Apr 23, 2014 - 11:00AM

    Does this 3G & 4G would be a financial success or disappointment for Government?

    However end users are anxious about how much it would cost them?

    My opinion is that it should be granted now and the data rates should be competitve!

    Recommend

  • Saifoo Khan
    Apr 23, 2014 - 11:01AM

    Please check your typo in 10:55am section.
    “The base prices for 3G and 4G licences have been set at $295 million per 10MHz and $210 million per 10MHz respectively.”
    It says 10MHz for both prices.
    Thanks.Recommend

  • Azmat
    Apr 23, 2014 - 11:04AM

    I wonder when the 3G service will start after the bidding completes today? Any idea?

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  • ashfaq
    Apr 23, 2014 - 11:18AM

    To compare auction revenues compare to other auctions?
    Due to high adoption rates for tablets and smart phones, there has been exponential growth in the demand for next-generation wireless services, such as Long Term Evolution (LTE). As a result, the price per MHz per population for Canada’s 700 MHz auction was $2.32 per MHz per population for a 20-year license. The United States’ 700 MHz wireless auction, which took place in 2008, before the existence of smartphones and tablets, was CA$1.11 per MHz per population for a 10-year license term.

    Recommend

  • Nazar
    Apr 23, 2014 - 11:58AM

    Please someone answer @Azmat’s qustion. I need to know that too.

    Recommend

  • Baloch
    Apr 23, 2014 - 12:06PM

    @Azmat:
    In few weeks

    Recommend

  • adeel
    Apr 23, 2014 - 12:29PM

    thumbs up for PTA and government

    Recommend

  • Jibran
    Apr 23, 2014 - 12:45PM

    I’m not sure what is the bidding for? Usually the bidding is for exclusive sale. Isn’t here all the players going to get what they want, i.e., the licence?

    Recommend

  • Sajid Mahmood Khan
    Apr 23, 2014 - 12:54PM

    The Govt should re invest the amount in IT and Telecom Sector which is earned by the bidding of 3G and 4G Licence for the technological development of IT and telecom sector in Pakistan instead of using the amount for less productive sector.

    Recommend

  • lahori
    Apr 23, 2014 - 1:05PM

    @Azmat @Nazar
    it’ll start in phases in the big cities, then district level, then tehsil level. expect it to be completely available by sept-oct.

    Recommend

  • khan
    Apr 23, 2014 - 1:16PM

    it seems to companies went head on for buying large specturm while to companies only brought minimum bandwidth. warid didnt paticipated.
    seeing that govt will be able to gain atleast 885 plus 420 million dollars for 4G.
    i think only two companies will be running for 4G in 1800mhz band.

    Recommend

  • Ali
    Apr 23, 2014 - 1:17PM

    I think 3G services can start within a month by all these players.They have already setup the Network structure for 3G since 2010 and have been waiting for the license since then

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  • Zubair
    Apr 23, 2014 - 1:20PM

    @Azmat : Infrastructure of telecom companies is ready and compatible to 3G, so it might take less than 6 months for those companies to introduce 3G services.

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  • Aleem Umer
    Apr 23, 2014 - 1:20PM

    @Azmat:
    I dont think so, may be they will have to acquire all installation before to introduce the system.

    Recommend

  • Thinker
    Apr 23, 2014 - 1:25PM

    As per the current infrastructure and facility, 3G may start in 30-45 days. As for as 4G is concerned, it will take 6-8 months…

    Recommend

  • Nida Alvi
    Apr 23, 2014 - 1:27PM

    The Telecom industry in Pakistan has always flourished during the tenure of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. The telecom industry got the first-ever big boost during 1991 when MNS deregulated the telecom industry in Pakistan. As a result, a number of private players entered the Pakistani market and the monopoly of T&T (exorbitant pricing but still loss making) broke. The initial players were:
    1. Digital Communications [DC Pager]
    2. Cable & Wireless [Paktel]
    3. Arfeen Group [Instaphone]
    4. Saif Telecom [Mobilink]
    The efforts for privatization were started in that era with corporatization (of T&T) into PTCL and unbundling of National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) for the government organizations.
    The telecom industry has been inhibited by General Musharraf’s secret deal with Etisalat in 2006 due to which the buyer of PTCL is still not making the remaining payment of US$ 700 Million and Pakistan has been unable to auction the 3G licensing causing huge loss to Pakistan.
    Better late than never!

    Recommend

  • Apr 23, 2014 - 1:29PM

    Standard hashtag?! #Pak3GAuction

    Recommend

  • Parvez
    Apr 23, 2014 - 1:51PM

    ….I bet the money TO BE realised from this auction ….. has already been spent.

    Recommend

  • Reader
    Apr 23, 2014 - 1:54PM

    Good job ET web and reporters.

    Recommend

  • Imran
    Apr 23, 2014 - 1:57PM

    This is no auction. Just drama.

    Recommend

  • Khan
    Apr 23, 2014 - 2:01PM

    @Jibran:
    Exactly what I was wondering. The exercise seems more for public consumption rather than any actual impact on no. of licensees. There are 4 bidders, and all are expected to get the license, then what purpose is this auction process serving considering everyone already knows base price and are bidding around the same.

    Recommend

  • Dumb fellow
    Apr 23, 2014 - 2:20PM

    Okay… I’m pretty new to using proper technology.. So can someone answer a simple question. What are the benefits of 3G/4G for a normal mobile user? What major difference would it make? Can’t really understand what the all hype is about. :/

    Recommend

  • b.
    Apr 23, 2014 - 2:25PM

    Hahaha @Parvez:

    Recommend

  • sana
    Apr 23, 2014 - 2:45PM

    Hi guys!
    some1 tell which operator is leading the auction ?

    Recommend

  • Khan
    Apr 23, 2014 - 2:51PM

    @dumb fellow, 3G and 4G LTE has a faster data transfer rate, just like you have PTCL broadband, you can receive a 4G LTE broadband without telephone connection, just plug in and go, with the option for you to take your broadband internet with you. Currently all internet on mobiles are 2G with speeds of 256kbs, with 4G LTE this will improve by at least 100 times faster.Recommend

  • Khan
    Apr 23, 2014 - 2:58PM

    @Dumb fellow:
    Simple answer is it won’t affect 80% of the users/population in the short term. If employed usefully the benefits will become apparent in 2-3 years. Basically useful for smartphone users in Pakistan who are willing to pay upto 2-3 times their current internet charges for the new technology.

    Recommend

  • Apr 23, 2014 - 3:27PM

    @Dumb fellow:
    First things first, the “G” stands for a generation of mobile technology, installed in phones and on cellular networks. Each “G” generally requires you to get a new phone, and for networks to make expensive upgrades. The first two were analog cell phones (1G) and digital phones (2G). Then it got complicated.

    Third-generation mobile networks, or 3G, came to the U.S. in 2003. With minimum consistent Internet speeds of 144Kbps, 3G was supposed to bring “mobile broadband.” There are now so many varieties of 3G, though, that a “3G” connection can get you Internet speeds anywhere from 400Kbps to more than ten times that.

    New generations usually bring new base technologies, more network capacity for more data per user, and the potential for better voice quality, too.

    4G phones are supposed to be even faster, but that’s not always the case. There are so many technologies called “4G,” and so many ways to implement them, that the term is almost meaningless. The International Telecommunications Union, a standards body, tried to issue requirements to call a network 4G but they were ignored by carriers, and eventually the ITU backed down. 4G technologies include HSPA+ 21/42, WiMAX, and LTE (although some consider LTE the only true 4G of that bunch, and some people say none of them are fast enough to qualify.)

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  • Muhammad Rahim
    Apr 23, 2014 - 4:12PM

    @jibran @Khan:
    They are bidding for bandwidth which is like buying frequencies to be used for 3G and 4G services.

    Recommend

  • S Mansoor
    Apr 23, 2014 - 4:21PM

    This is all great. But I fear we don’t have the backbone bandwidth as a country to allow users to take full advantage of 3G. I mean, even hardly any fixed broadband connection here delivers what it claims, what to talk of internet on our phones. I hope someone from the government will pay attention to that all important aspect too.

    Recommend

  • Khan
    Apr 23, 2014 - 4:34PM

    Role out will be expected in 2 to 3 months not years. Technology is all out there, only needs rebranding and sold on, with operator logos stuck on and package prices to be established.Recommend

  • Shafiq ur Rehman
    Apr 23, 2014 - 4:41PM

    An exciting moment, hope and pray that it ends in a win-win situation.

    Recommend

  • lhr1
    Apr 23, 2014 - 4:47PM

    As far as Lahore is concerned, mobilink & telenor are already testing 3.5G/4G network here, just check your phones & you’ll see a sign of 3G/H+/4G beside the network signals, so I assume that services will start within 2 weeks! Not everyone will be able to afford it as the cost of using 3G/4G will be way more than what we pay now for the 2G internet.

    Recommend

  • Khuram
    Apr 23, 2014 - 5:51PM

    Wht is the a Speed diffrence betwen DSL and 3G

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  • Zain
    Apr 23, 2014 - 5:57PM

    Are these only for cellular companies? About about 4G in ptcl broadband?
    Please ignore, if my question is not making sense. i don’t understand this whole thing. Please explain me.

    Recommend

  • Shadab E.
    Apr 23, 2014 - 6:06PM

    With this ma Pakistan become superpower.

    Recommend

  • ali mustafa
    Apr 23, 2014 - 6:36PM

    BING is not working,not on pc neither on my cellphone,it got banned??????????????????really,what are we getting 3g for

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  • unbelievable
    Apr 23, 2014 - 6:42PM

    It would appear that Reuters article was correct after all – anyone surprised? Regardless – the value of Pakistan 3G is what ever someone is willing to pay – not what the govt says it is and the people of Pakistan are better off with 3G even if some govt official overestimated it’s value.

    Recommend

  • PeacePakistan
    Apr 23, 2014 - 7:05PM

    @Dumb fellow:
    Police can easily verify vehicle instantly by using online verification system. By this Non custom Paid vehicles can be easily traced, And it will also discourage car lifters as well.

    Nadra Chip based ID cards data readers can easily read all the credentials, and inter Provisional movement can easily be recorded, By this Crime rate will Fall rapidly including terrorism. (because Mostly crimes are conducted by the people who are from other provinces and particular belong to those area where Govt writ is not observed)

    Law and Order the first Priority.

    Recommend

  • Strategic Asset
    Apr 23, 2014 - 8:52PM

    @unbelievable: You are right. Surprising that no one is talking about that aspect.

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  • Chachoo
    Apr 23, 2014 - 8:58PM

    @unbelievable: Do you have any positive to say on any forum?.

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  • ali
    Apr 23, 2014 - 9:18PM

    will the 10Mhz and 5Hz offer the same speed?
    or will there be difference in speed?

    Recommend

  • Apr 23, 2014 - 10:05PM

    @Parvez:
    No , it is coming to the government. Our generals do not know about that.

    Recommend

  • MJ
    Apr 23, 2014 - 10:18PM

    The issue in Pakistan is not over the air technology but the backhaul. A 3G carrier can give a user an average of 3-5 Mbps and a 4G carrier can give a user 10-15 Mbps in a loaded environment over the air. But one will need to have access to services that need and can support these kinds of speeds. The bottle neck is going to be our vulnerable link to the world wide web. A few under sea cables that connect Pakistan to the rest of the world. Also all towers providing high speed services will need to be converted from copper (T1) to fiber (ethernet) connections. Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but It will take years before Pakistan will actually see a benefit of these high speed technologies.

    Recommend

  • Apr 23, 2014 - 10:22PM

    This is indeed a great development, great work by PMLN.

    Recommend

  • bechari-awam
    Apr 23, 2014 - 10:32PM

    Zong is a clear winner, IMH but largely accurate opinion. Comparing 3G with LTE is like traveling on a Corolla as opposed to a Maserati. Here in Bay area California, the difference between At&T 3G and 4G(LTE) is like day and night. I remember my iPhone 4 going to max of 3-5Mbps for 3G/3G+ while consistently touching 20-60Mbps for 4G(LTE) depending on the distance from the tower for my iPhone5. In layman terms, you can virtually do anything with LTE which you are used to do with landline broadband. I am quite sure, once people start using both technologies and do the comparison themselves, every one will be willing to switch to 4G(LTE) and then Mobilink will understand their stupidity on missing out this opportunity because then govt will force them to pay 2-3 times the license fee they would have paid now.

    Recommend

  • Rashid Nizamani
    Apr 23, 2014 - 11:20PM

    @Zain:
    3G and 4G technologies are for mobile internet. Although there’s PTCL Evo 3G but I don’t think it’s the same thing.

    Recommend

  • Sohraab
    Apr 24, 2014 - 12:14AM

    What a Dumb Government…now its confirmed that they are in a hurry and in the process they will destroy Pakistan. I simply can’t believe that they offered 3G & 4G in the same year and same auction. If I understand correctly, Pakistan has lost more than $2 Billion dollars in the process!!!!!
    What a Shame!!

    Recommend

  • Apr 24, 2014 - 12:56AM

    so more internet, 30% of internet is pornographic sites, and we are prosecuting a porn actress, why this contradiction. Atleast, the courts ordering for trial of meera, should erect some rules around internet, else unrestrained, its a complete collapse of ethics and morals

    Recommend

  • Salman Yousaf
    Apr 24, 2014 - 1:59AM

    3G and 4G without youtube is baseless…

    Recommend

  • Zaid Hamid
    Apr 24, 2014 - 2:26AM

    I approve this. 4G spectrum sold exclusively to Zong company belonging to our sweeter than sweetest honey friends! One more step towards Pakistan becoming a Chinese territory.

    Recommend

  • sterry
    Apr 24, 2014 - 10:26PM

    @Sohraab: A historic offering that once again reflects the positive press that the economy in Pakistan is getting. It sounds like you are complaining for nothing. Telecommunications in Pakistan is improving. That’s the story for me. Why don’t you read market and press reports from the West which are positive on the Pakistani economy?

    Recommend

  • Apr 25, 2014 - 12:07AM

    Great
    3g is shorthand for “third generation,” and alludes to a systems administration standard in cell phone technology that is fit for giving rapid informatio http://thisreals.com/what-is-3g-and-4g-technology.phpRecommend

  • Shah
    Jun 11, 2014 - 6:59AM

    There Was A Potential $ Billion Revenue Just From Auctioning 3G In 2008 But The Poor Policies Of The Government eg High Taxes and Taking Away USF Has Rocked The Confidence Of Investors No New Entrant Came

    Recommend

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