ISLAMABAD: Pakistan government’s long awaited 3G and 4G spectrum licenses drew disappointing bids, finance and IT ministry officials and telecom industry executives told Reuters.

A government-commissioned study by Plum Consulting said that the 3G spectrum auction was expected to raise Pakistan’s gross domestic product by $8 billion and indirectly create up to 900,000 new jobs.

But when bidding closed  on Monday, only four out of five cellular mobile companies operating in Pakistan had submitted bids and no new companies showed interest, sources privy to the bidding told Reuters.

Telecom companies Mobilink and Zong bid for 10 MHz. Telenor and Ufone both bid for 5 MHz.

Warid Telecom Pakistan Turkcell and Saudi Telecom Company, two foreign companies who had earlier shown interest.

Pakistan is set to hold long-awaited auctions for 3G and 4G network licences on April 23, a step the government projects will raise $2 billion to boost the country’s foreign reserves.

Pakistan is the only major country in the region that still does not offer 3G services. Its neighbour, war-ravaged Afghanistan, switched to 3G services in 2012.

There are about 132 million mobile phones in use in Pakistan, a country of 180 million people, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.

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