PTA rejects extension request in sealed bid submission timeline

Lahore (NUT-DESK)

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has rejected the request of Cellular Mobile Operators (CMOs) for extending the timeline for sealed bid submission for Spectrum Auction for Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS).

Sources revealed that the CMOs had requested the PTA for extending the timeline for sealed bid submission by at least three weeks. CMOs stated that there are a lot of internal approvals requirements, corporate governance requirements and the Board-level approvals to participate in the auction.

However, the PTA responded that enough time has been provided as per international practice and past precedence in Pakistan. The PTA published Information Memorandum on August 5, 2021 and the consultation period ended on the Spectrum Auction rules and procedures as set out in the Information Memorandum on August 26, 2021. Further changes to the Spectrum Auction rules and procedures and publication were notified on August 31, 2021.

Information session for prospective applicants; last opportunity for prospective applicants to ask questions and get clarification on specifics of the Spectrum Auction were scheduled on September 2, 2021, while the deadline for prospective applicants to submit application form and sealed-bid form with pre-bid deposits is September 9, 2021.

The PTA will notify qualified applicant(s) and further inform all qualified applicants whether the auction shall move to the electronic auction stage or the PTA declares qualified applicants as provisional winners on September 10, 2021.

If the PTA proceeds with the electronic auction stage, an information package containing confidential information and instructions to participate in the electronic auction stage is provided to those qualified applicants eligible to participate in that stage on September 13. Mock clock auction (1800 MHz and 2100 MHz), if required, for eligible qualified applicants will be held on September 14 and clock auction bidding will be starting, if required on September 15. SMRA auction bidding will start, if required, for eligible qualified applicants on September 16 and provisional winners will be announced for both spectrum bands on September 17, 2021.

In response to another query of CMOs that in the event there are unsold portions of 1800MHz band, where will these unsold assignments be placed in the band? At the beginning, at the end or elsewhere, the PTA responded that this will depend on the auction outcome though the PTA will seek to maintain contiguous spectrum holdings and recognized that a further rationalisation may be required once that unassigned spectrum is awarded. Any rationalization plan for 2100 MHz will be implemented with mutual consultation of CMOs, the authority added.

The CMOs asked that if there is a planned band rationalization for 2100MHz, what is the purpose of bidding for frequency specific blocks in 2100MHz band, the PTA responded that it sees merits in auctioning specific blocks in the 2100 MHz band, due to the prevailing uncertainties on the rationalization within this band and in recognition of CMOs’ demand for this spectrum may differ by block.