PTCL in talks with govt for licence renewal

Telecom company’s licence expired on December 31, 2020


Salman Siddiqui January 02, 2021

KARACHI:

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) - which is known for its wired services - reported on Friday that its integrated licence, which was awarded for a period of 25 years, expired on December 31, 2020, according to a bourse filing. PTCL was required to get its licence renewed by the time of expiry, but that did not happen.

The delay in renewal would, however, not result in disconnection of services to the end-users as the firm was in talks with the government. It remained unclear as to why the renewal was delayed, though The Express Tribune reached out to the authorities concerned.

The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) telecom giant Etisalat, which controls the management of PTCL, is yet to pay longstanding dues of $800 million to the government of Pakistan.

“In the interest of business continuity and operations, PTCL sought permanent injunction on December 18, 2020 from the Sindh High Court at Karachi by way of filing a suit…wherein PTA (Pakistan Telecommunication Authority) is restrained from taking any adverse action against PTCL on expiry of licence on December 31, 2020 and not to interfere in the business of PTCL and the provision of services on the basis of licence,” PTCL Company Secretary Saima Akbar Khattak said in a notification to the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX).

“PTCL, however, remains in discussions with PTA and the federal government to finalise the terms and conditions of the renewed licence.

PTCL is confident that licence will be renewed at the earliest,” she said. As per terms of the licence, PTCL initiated the renewal process by formally requesting PTA on June 29, 2018 (30 months prior to expiry of the licence).

PTA responded in affirmative vide its letter on October 1, 2018 that PTCL’s licence would be renewed in accordance with the government policy prevalent at the time of renewal, she said.

PTA issued a licence to PTCL to provide telecommunication services in Pakistan for a period of 25 years, commencing January 1, 1996, at an agreed licence fee of Rs249.34 million.

In June 2005, PTA modified the previously issued licence to provide telecommunication services to include a spectrum licence at an agreed licence fee of Rs3.65 billion.

This licence allows the company to provide Wireless Local Loop (WLL) services in Pakistan over a period of 20 years, commencing October 2004, according to the PTCL Annual Report 2019.

Etisalat acquired 26% shareholding in state-owned PTCL with management control for $2.6 billion in June 2005. It was given five years to pay the price in installments. It has yet to pay the last installment of $800 million, which has been pending since long.

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