Government of Pakistan is going to hold an auction of 3G/4G spectrum in May 2017. Meanwhile we have heard news of successful testing of 5G services by Huawei-Telenor joint venture.

The upcoming auction for 3G/4G spectrum is very crucial for telecom operators in Pakistan as the next spectrum auction will take place in 2021. This was confirmed by the State Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Anusha Rehman while speaking with media.

She clearly stated that after the upcoming auction there will be no such activity till 2021 in the country. However she hinted that next auction, planned for 2021 will also include spectrum for 5G services.

“There is huge demand for spectrum and government would achieve its auction targets in the current financial year”, said the Minister.

Why 5G Auction in 2021

While explaining that why next spectrum auction cannot be held before 2021, the Minister stated that general elections will be held in 2018 there will be no time to go for auction during this year.

The operators [including Telenor and Warid (now Jazz)] will have to renew their licenses in 2019, which would require huge investment for the purpose, said the Minister.

After investing in the license renewal, operators would not be able to go for auction in 2020. Hence next auction — after the current planned one — is likely to be held in 2021, said the Minister.

Experts Opinion

Independent industry experts think that Minister is just trying to gain some traction, otherwise — in this age and time — there’s no way for the operators and the government to hold for spectrum auction for four years.

If we look at 2014’s auction, government held two spectrum auctions with-in three years, indicating that holding a spectrum auction — when there’s a need (from either side) — isn’t impossible.

Current spectrum allocations, especially in 3G bands will exhaust capacity for majority of operators in next 2-3 years and there’s going to be an auction in any case, the experts said.