In a move suggesting China’s helping hand, Zong, a Chinese company, has decided to make the $516 million payment on account of next-generation spectrum licences in dollars. The move would help the country add to its foreign currency reserves.
Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rahman said that Zong will invest $1 billion in the next two to three years in Pakistan. Talking to media persons here at the PTA headquarter, she said that the government was also negotiating with the company for local manufacturing, technology transfer and research innovations to help boost the employment and investment opportunities in Pakistan.
“We also asked the operators to establish their mobile sale point for new technology here in Pakistan to avoid any complications,” Rahman said.
She also informed that negotiation is under way with another company to make the payment in dollars but, added that, the name could not be revealed yet.
She further informed that Warid cannot avail 4G services without the PTA’s permission. This was also confirmed by the PTA chairman.
CMPAK Limited, known as Zong, gave the highest price of $306.9 million for the 3G licence in the 10MHz band, making it eligible for getting a 4G licence at the base price of $210 million. The base price for 3G was $295 million.
Out of the little over $1.11 billion fetched by the auction, Zong paid the highest amount of $516.92 million for two licences. According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority website, Zong’s market share was closing in on Ufone’s.
“Zong is very excited in becoming the only party to win both the 3G and 4G frequencies and will roll out the services at a faster pace,” said Sikandar Naqi, Advisor to the Chief Executive Officer of Zong.
Meanwhile, in a press conference, Telenor Chief Marketing Officer Ifran Wahab Khan said that the auction process was transparent and his cellular company will reach the rural areas too with its vision of ‘internet for all’.
Khan said that the issue of high taxation on telecommunications was also discussed in a meeting with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who promised to address this concern of the operators in the upcoming budget.
Dar observed that the induction of the spectrums will add technological resources to Pakistan’s socio-economic sectors. The CEOs of all the Cellular Mobile Operators observed that there will be more appetite for the spectrums in the coming months.
Rehman also said government collaboration with the mobile companies for the telecommunication development of the country is desirable for all. She emphasised on developing areas like e-health, tele-centers and e-education.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2014.