ISLAMABAD: Fulfilling the longstanding demand of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), the federal government has finally decided to auction 4G internet services for the two regions.
“In order to pave way for the auction of 4G broadband services, the government has resolved issues pertaining to the state-run Special Communications Organization (SCO) as well as other legal hindrances,” said an official on the condition of anonymity. “Like other cellular companies, SCO, the only company handling internet and telephone services across GB and AJK, will also participate in the auction process.”
Earlier, the process for auction of 3G and 4G services was delayed due to various reasons, including a court stay granted to SCO.
According to officials, the announcement related to the auction of 4G services would be made by Prime Minister Imran Khan on occasion of Pakistan Day, and that the auction proceeds for new spectrum would be finalised by mid-May.
Likewise, the auction of 4G licences in GB and AJK would be held before the end of this fiscal year, sources said, adding that the move would not only promote tourism in these areas but would also ensure higher revenues for GB and AJK governments.
Meanwhile, in a meeting held recently under the chair of PM Imran Khan, officials of the IT ministry and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) informed that traditional restrictions related to the security concerns have been relaxed and high speed internet services would be provided to almost all areas of GB and AJK expectedly before the end of 2021.
The meeting, which was also attended by GB Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid, was further informed that a UK-based consulting firm ‘Frontier Economics Ltd’ was working on the parameters and mode for the spectrum auction of 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands across the country.
The same firm has been tasked to determine the base price, policy and other requirements related to auction of 4G licenses in GB and the AJK, officials said.
Talking to this scribe, a senior PTA official confirmed that the basic roadmap for the two auctions would be finalised by middle of May 2021. “There will be one auction for new spectrum for the entire country, and a separate one for GB and AJK,” the official said.
He said the auction of licence for AJK and GB would be at a much lower price compared to the spectrum auction for the rest of the country.
“Besides, the proceeds from spectrum auction would be deposited in the National Consolidated Fund, whereas there would be a different mechanism to give the share of proceeds to GB and the AJK,” the official added.
He said apart from the share in the auction proceeds, the revenues of both AJK and GB too would increase through 19.5pc general sales tax (GST) on services levied on both telephony and the internet usage.