At long last: Govt starts laying groundwork for 3G auction

Published: September 21, 2012
The PTA rejected demands to extend the deadline for submission of bids by two weeks. CREATIVE COMMONS

The PTA rejected demands to extend the deadline for submission of bids by two weeks. CREATIVE COMMONS

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday held a pre-bid conference for prospective consultancy firms, which may be hired to ensure transparent auction of the third generation (3G) mobile telecommunications technology spectrum. The event marks the beginning of an auctioning process expected to generate at least $1 billion in revenues for the government.

The Pakistan Telecomm-unication Authority (PTA) had earlier sought proposals from “internationally reputed consultants, companies or consortia, aimed at assisting the PTA conduct the Mobile Cellular Spectrum License Auction in Pakistan. [sic]”

The successful culmination of the pre-bid conference also marks the formal beginning of the process of issuance of 3G licences, which has been repeatedly haunted by allegations of corruption. Apart from the accusations, mishandling of the process has also delayed the 3G auction by at least a year.

The conference was attended by PTA officials, representatives from the Ministry of Information and Technology, the Frequency Allocation Board and prospective consultancy firms. Attendees were either present in person, or logged in via audio conferencing systems. Observers say the conference set the stage for the highly-anticipated transaction to be closed before the end of the current fiscal year.

The conference, hosted by the PTA, took decisions on several important issues. Participants hope these will help the government hold a transparent auction for the technology.

During discussions, the PTA turned down an objection raised by prospective consultancy firms regarding the risks arising out of the process. According to the minutes of the conference, prospective companies had said that the tone of the Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by the PTA was not correct, and it seemed that all risk had been shifted to the consultant.

The PTA argued that the RFP was designed to achieve a win-win situation for both the consultant and the client. The consultant will be responsible for ensuring a transparent and fair auction, optimising revenue received and promoting growth of telecom services, it said.

The PTA also rejected demands to extend the deadline for submission of bids by two weeks. However, it relaxed certain other criteria, while keeping the bid submission date unchanged at September 24.

According to the fresh calendar, technical bids will be opened on the 24th of this month; bidders will give presentations on the 26th and 27th; and technically-qualified bids will be finalised the next day. The PTA will then open financial bids on October 4, 2012, and the successful bidder will be issued a Letter of Intent the next day.

The government will award the contract on October 15, and the new consultant will be required to issue a fresh Information Memorandum on November 15, after getting approval from the PTA, along with a mutually-agreed schedule for domestic and international road shows.

It was decided that the contract, once awarded to a consultancy firm, shall only be amended if required through a mutual agreement between the consultant and the PTA. The government has said it will bear expenses for domestic road shows, while expenses for international road shows will be borne by the consultant, the PTA informed the meeting.

The PTA said that consultants mainly raised concerns on the extension of timeline for the submission of proposals, the drop dead fee and road show expenses.

The drop dead fee – applied to compensate the loaning institution for lost interest if a loan is secured and then becomes unnecessary because of a failed deal – was increased from $100,000 to $350,000 on the demand of prospective bidders.

The drop dead fee will be paid to the successful bidder in case the government abandons the auction at any stage after award of the contract to the consultant. The government will also be liable to pay the drop dead fee if the bidder offers a price higher than the reserve price, but the government rejects the bid. On the other hand, the successful bidder will pay the amount to the government if it fails to honour its commitment to the contract.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2012.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Salem
    Sep 21, 2012 - 11:03AM

    Pakistan is selling 3G license when it is becoming an old technology with 4G and LTE as new/latest technology..


  • Sep 21, 2012 - 3:43PM

    By the day 3G implements in Pakistan its going to be old technology . PTA should go for 4G if they want this auction win win for all .


  • ab
    Sep 21, 2012 - 5:07PM

    well we are always been late adopters of the technologyRecommend

  • Engr. Zeeshan Aslam
    Sep 21, 2012 - 5:57PM

    always lateRecommend

  • The Judge
    Sep 21, 2012 - 9:24PM

    Its not about coming late to pak…its about affordabilityRecommend

  • Khurram Ashfaq
    Sep 21, 2012 - 11:26PM

    We must go for 4G


  • Hypocrite
    Sep 22, 2012 - 1:34AM

    4G phones are expensive. 3G plans will be cheaper than what 4G is available for. Besides only the US and UK have 4G. And what are you going to do with 50mbps connection when its for mobile. Just be thankful that it is coming Recommend

  • random
    Sep 22, 2012 - 2:04AM

    @ the judge – there are a lot many affordable 3G devices out there. And with 3G the prices of internet packages generally can come down simply because of the increased capacity to serve more users per cell site…

    The bigger question is whether the telco operators would bite, given that Rehman malik shuts down their business every other month….


  • Caramelized_Onion
    Sep 22, 2012 - 2:56AM

    Forget 4G, if the Govt. manages to implement 3G with no major financial losses to the public exchequer through kickbacks then that will be an acheivement in itself.

    Like always, technology is not the solution, good management and honest practices are the solution.


  • Observer
    Sep 22, 2012 - 11:43AM

    We’re a developing economy. Lets just get 3G first. As it is, most people here can’t afford a 4G phone, of which there are only a handful.


  • A2Z
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:18PM

    @Hypocrite 4G is not available in UK yet. It is in testing phase at the moment. Other than that 4G is being used commercially in nearly 30 countries.


  • Bill Maher (LAX)
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:25PM

    A friendly advice:
    Pls learn from the 2G scandal and India. That was a mess.
    You will thank me later.


  • nimit kamdar
    Sep 22, 2012 - 1:00PM

    in india bharti airtel too launched 4g in kolkata and banglore and now soon its going to be launched in mumbai and also other companies like reliance and tata are conducting their studies


  • Naz
    Sep 22, 2012 - 1:08PM

    4G is expensive. It’s cost Etisalat $1.6 billion dollars for 4G infrastructure in UAE. I don’t think Pakistan can afford that right now. So at least bring on the 3G even though Pakistan telecoms are 10 years late.


  • Not me
    Sep 22, 2012 - 1:53PM

    Good luck. But the issue of Rs 47 billion Sales Tax SRO will have to be resolved demanded by Mobile phone companies cartel


  • Dr. X
    Sep 22, 2012 - 2:44PM

    The questions which each company is asking is whether there will be enough users for 3G.


  • Cautious
    Sep 22, 2012 - 7:13PM

    This shouldn’t be a complicated process – since you have been wrestling with this for along time it raises the question whether the real issue is how to manage the under the table payments. I suggest you outsource the bidding process – will disappoint the corrupt but it will result in you finally selling 3G rights.


  • Engineer
    Sep 25, 2012 - 3:32PM

    @The Judge:

    Judge… I am a telco Engineer and I dont see any major difference in operating expenditures for 4G compared to 3G…so kindly refrain from baseless comments.


  • Mohammad salman Yousaf
    Oct 19, 2012 - 5:47PM

    Dear all , As you know that Afghanistan has already started 3g and they are having profit from it. then why not in pakistan.
    Etisalat was the first in previous year to start 3g. than if i am not wrong two more telco companies got the licences.
    If pakistani companies want to earn some money they have to invest in new technologies that is in every part of the world.

    Mohammad Salman Yousaf
    Biomedical Engineer


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