Government auctions spectrum for telecoms and satellite networks

ISLAMABAD: In order to launch cellular broadband networks, including 5G and other voice, data, satellite and other networks, the government has planned to withdraw the fragmented spectrum already available to different public sector organizations, including including defense and law enforcement agencies, and selling it to telecoms. operators, satellites and other communication networks. This major undertaking has been highlighted in the draft policy framework for the refarming of the frequency spectrum.

This draft framework has been prepared for the first time in the country and is expected to help the government recover the fragmented spectrum used by different public sector entities to improve the voice and data networks of telecom operators.

In accordance with Section 8.5.1 of the Telecommunications Policy 2015, spectrum will be reallocated when its current use is not in the best social and economic interests of Pakistan, if it is underutilized, inefficiently used or if its use is incompatible with international attributions.

Incumbent users/licensees will release their spectrum allocations in a particular band either partially or completely so that the band can be allocated to other users. In the process, the government will compensate the affected organization after the clawback agreement.

Under the draft policy, the PTA/PEMRA and the FAB (Frequency Allocation Board) will recommend to the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications the obligation to reallocate a given frequency band.

The Federal Government, through the MoIT&T, will decide to re-use any spectrum, followed by the constitution of the “Spectrum Repurposing Committee”. This would include MOIT&T, FAB, PTA/PEMRA and historical user. The PTA/PEMRA would be authorized to engage a reputable independent consultant for a detailed analysis of the subject and to submit recommendations to the committee.

The terms of reference (TOR) of the committee/consultant may include the estimation of the value of the refarmed spectrum using the valuation method to estimate the cost of refarming compensation (for government users only), the quantum of spectrum to be refarmed -farmed, in order to determine the timetable for re-farming and to seek the opinion of the relevant stakeholders.

The recommendations would be submitted to the federal government in three months. The committee will monitor the progress of the implementation. The PTA/FAB will implement the re-farming process for PTA users and licensees. Likewise, PEMRA/FAB will implement this for PEMRA users and licensees who may opt for new advanced services in the assigned band.

However, any change in technology by a licensee will be authorized by an appropriate regulator with notice to FAB. After FAB approval, PTA/PEMRA may re-license any other operator, including satellite operator, broadcast operator, etc.

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