3G/4G License Renewal in AJK May Face Delays: PTA

The cellular license renewal and additional spectrum auction in 1800 and 2100 MHz bands in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) and Gilgit Baltistan (GB) may face a delay as no qualified Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) consultant has set any criteria for its consultancy.

PTA has initiated the cellular license renewal and additional spectrum auction in 1800 and 2100 MHz bands in Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

It had decided to hire a consultant(s) or a consulting firm(s) for the renewal of cellular licenses and for an additional spectrum auction in AJ&K and GB and had invited Expressions of Interest (EOI) from local (Pakistani, AJ&K and GB) consultants and consulting firm that are on the Active Taxpayers List of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) of Pakistan.

The authority had also extended the deadline for hiring consultants or consulting firms for the renewal of cellular licenses and an additional spectrum auction in 1800 and 2100 MHz bands in Pakistan, AJ&K, and GB.

The deadline for the submission of bids for hiring consultants for the spectrum auction in AJK & GB has also been extended from 20 October to 5 November 2020.

The consultants who had applied for the job did not fulfill its criteria. Therefore, PTA will invite EOI from local (Pakistani, AJ&K, and GB) consultants and consulting firms again. Consequently, the process is likely to be delayed, sources added.

A spokesperson for the PTA said that local consultancy is required for AJ&K and GB. Two local consultants were unable to submit the bids as per the Request for Proposal (RFP) which is why fresh bids that will not delay the process except for two weeks additional required for its completion are being called for, he added.

The consultant(s) or consulting firm(s) will carry out the assignment according to the detailed RFP which includes, but is not limited to the renewal of licenses, Additional Spectrum Auction, and a Spectrum Rationalization Plan.

The objective of the consultancy is to devise a strategy for the existing Mobile Cellular License Renewal and the Additional Spectrum Auction in 1800 and 2100 MHz bands in light of the international best practices that are suitable for AJ&K and GB’s telecommunications market, are focused on regulatory consistency for the investors, and for mobile broadband proliferation and the future sustainability of the cellular sector with an overall economic growth of the region.

Furthermore, the consultancy is aimed at spectrum Pricing Benchmarks for renewal and auction with future projections for the next three years, targeting to achieve overall economic growth and to incentivize foreign investment while considering the impact of the previous benchmarks and other relevant factors.

One of the objectives is also Spectrum Rationalization or the Re-adjustment Plan with an objective to maximize efficient spectrum utilization in line with the international best practices for the assigned spectrum. The aim will be to assign the spectrum in a manner that will make a block size of contiguous frequencies by re-farming the existing assignments to make standardized block sizes.

Moreover, a transparent and competitive spectrum auction plan with an optimal outcome that promotes mobile broadband proliferation, the growth of cellular services, and the prevention of collusion between the bidders is required as per the consultancy assignment.

The PTA’s strategic vision is to create a fair regulatory regime to promote investment, to encourage competition, to protect consumers’ interests, and to ensure high-quality Information & Communication Technology (ICT) services.

The scope of work will include:

  • Conducting studies and assessments of the available or assigned spectrum in 900, 1800, and 2100 MHz in AJ&K and GB.
  • The international best practice on spectrum auctions or renewals and assignments keeping in view its aspects.
  • Consultation with relevant stakeholders including Cellular Mobile Operators, relevant governments, and Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) headquarters to assess the telecommunications market, and its regulatory, financial, and technical opportunities and challenges as specified.
  • The development of Policy Recommendations for Cellular License Renewal and Spectrum Auction Methodology comprised of the terms and conditions of licenses to be renewed, auction design, spectrum base price, rationalization plan, and any other relevant terms and conditions.
  • The development of an Information Memorandum including a license template, and assistance with conducting the spectrum auction as per the agreed-upon auction design.

The specific deliverables as per the timelines mentioned in the contract agreement are:

  1. A report on the existing Cellular Sector Analysis with a focus on spectrum assignments. The report will include recommendations for Cellular License Renewal, the possibility of a new entrant, spectrum auction, and rationalization with timelines for the auction based on international best practices and stakeholder consultations applying technical, commercial, and due legal diligence.
  2. A report on the spectrum valuation of 900, 1800, and 2100 MHz bands with future projections of 3 x Years. The determination of the prices will be done under strict confidence and will be provided in sealed envelopes to the client.
  3. A report on the auction methodology design and process for the spectrum assignment.
  4. Preparing Policy Recommendations (comprising renewal terms and conditions, spectrum blocks for auction, base price, auction design, spectrum capping, spectrum floor, spectrum rationalization plan, duration of the assignment, QoS, coverage, payment terms, auction participants, and other relevant terms and conditions).
  5. Preparing an Information Memorandum along with the license template including the information mentioned in point 4, and a detailed auction design methodology, round increments, earnest money.
  6. Assisting the PTA in developing and issuing necessary clarifications as and when required to the potential bidders.
  7. Preparing bid documents and other relevant documents ancillary to the auction process.

The consultant(s) or consulting firm(s) will carry out the assignment in accordance with the RFP document. They will be required to have relevant technical, financial, legal, and regulatory expertise to successfully carry out the assignment.

The method of selection will be Quality and Cost-based. Interested consultants and consulting firms will submit their proposals for consultancy titled ‘Cellular License Renewal and Additional Spectrum Auction in AJ&K AND GB’ fulfilling all the parameters set in the RFP.

The PTA – a regulatory authority for the telecommunication sector in Pakistan, AJ&K, and GB – was established as a corporate body under Section 3 of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organization) Act, 1996 as enforced in AJ&K by virtue of the AJ&K Council Adaptation of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organization) Act, 2005 and in GB by virtue of the GB Council Adaptation of Laws Act, 2012, by the AJ&K Council/GB Council. The PTA regulates the establishment, operation, and maintenance of telecommunication systems and the provision of telecommunication services in AJ&K and GB.

It is authorized to undertake consultancy on the terms and conditions that it may determine for licensing the radio frequency spectrum for any telecommunication system and service, as it may periodically specify.