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Pakistani regulator announces reserve price for 1.8GHz spectrum

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has established reserve prices for the 1.8GHz spectrum scheduled for auction.

The available 10MHz of 1.8GHz spectrum will have a base price of $295 million, with the bidding due to take place before the end of this fiscal year (June 30th). The technology-neutral block will be made available to newcomers and existing operators, and will be assigned for 15 years.

The 1.8GHz block - along with another in the 850MHz band - went unsold in a 2014 auction of 850MHz, 1.8GHz, and 1.9GHz to 2.1GHz spectrum. In June 2016, number two operator Telenor acquired the 850MHz block at the reserve price ($395 million) by virtue of being the sole bidder – its three largest rivals (Mobilink, Ufone and China Mobile’s Zong) chose not to take part in the auction.

Operator abstinence in last year’s auction reflected a consultant report commissioned by the regulator which concluded that an auction was not viable in the current market conditions. However, despite these findings the government pressed ahead with its plans, resulting in the low turnout.

In the second half of 2016, the number of 3G & 4G data users in Pakistan rose by 27% to 37.6 million. In particular, 4G subscriber numbers almost tripled to hit 2.9 million.