PTA to hold electronic auction

Method to discourage collusive bidding.

Our Correspondent April 05, 2014
Bidders’ identity will be kept confidential — that is the telecom operators would be awarded codes or colours to participate in the auction. DESIGN: CREATIVE COMMONS


Unlike its Bangladeshi counterpart that sold the third-generation (3G) mobile spectrum licences through an open outcry method, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has chosen to hold an electronic auction, which sources say is in line with international standards and also likely to discourage collusive bidding.

Electronic auction is the standard practice all over the world and India, too, preferred this mode over the outdated open outcry method while auctioning 3G licences, said an official requesting not to be quoted. “The electronic auction will discourage collusion and ensure transparency,” said the official.

Responding to a question, the official said the base price for a 3G licence is already very high in the first place, which will certainly discourage collusion. Secondly, he said the bidders’ identity will be kept confidential — that is the telecom operators [bidders] would be awarded codes or colours to participate in the auction. Simply put, one operator would not know who the other bidder is and vice versa thus, reducing the chances of collusive bidding.

While the chances for collusion were already very thin but the apex telecom regulator could cancel the licence of the bidder found involved in the practice, the official said.

The telecom operators, potential bidders, have until April 14 to submit their bid proposals, which would be reviewed by the PTA. Within 10 days of the bids’ submission, the telecom regulator will hold mock auction for the telecom operators. The purpose of it would be to educate the bidders about the process of the spectrum auction for the next-generation mobile internet services that would be held on April 23.

The PTA’s website, according to sources, will update information after every round of the bidding process. The PTA will also hold information sessions for the media in the week starting on March 14.

The operators will learn about the auction process later this month but they have started testing their networks in major cities as some consumers have reportedly received high speeds on their mobile handsets recently, especially later at night.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 6th, 2014.

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