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Delay in issuance of telecom licences

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Telecom operators are showing concerns as the deadline for the expiry of their licenses is near and the government has still not issued any framework for renewal of their licenses. Licenses of three mobile operators in Pakistan including Warid, Telenor, and CMpak are going to expire in 2019. This delayed response by the government will negatively affect the cellular users and is therefore creating uncertainty in the industry.

According to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) laws, the government was supposed to have issued a license renewal framework about one and a half year ago. However it is still not issued to three mobile operating companies – Zong, Warid, and Telenor.

The companies are also worried about the huge amount for license renewals demanded by the government to gain handsome revenues. They not only need to renew their licenses but also require additional spectrum with the increase in the number of subscribers. The operators have requested the government to not exceed the renewal fees paid back in 2004, which was USD 291 million, as the Pakistani rupee has depreciated significantly since then. The operators have also requested that the government should consider the use of Pakistani rupee as the currency of denomination for license renewals and any future spectrum auctions.

With that base price, telecom companies would have no choice but to renew their licenses to continue operating without buying new spectrum which will inevitably damage the network quality, user experience, and with it government revenues in the end. The government must look into this carefully and cater their needs as the telecom sector has played a vital role in Pakistan’s progress by foreign direct investment in billions of Dollars and by creating countless jobs for public.