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Pakistan Sues Reuters For 3G Auction Report

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Pakistani officials claim Reuters was trying to “sabotage” today’s auctions of 3G and 4G licenses to mobile carriers in one of its recent reports. The nation’s finance minister had said the auction would raise $1.3 billion or more, reports Dawn.com.

Reuters says 3G interest was low

Last  week the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority accepted bids from four current mobile carriers in the nation. PTA officials called the response “very encouraging and satisfactory.” Reuters, however, reported that there wasn’t much interest in the auction of 3G licenses and suggested that Pakistan wouldn’t be able to raise any more than $850 million in the auction.

The media outlet reportedly said some unnamed officials had said the carriers’ bids were “so embarrassingly off target” that Pakistan’s finance minister wanted to call off the entire auction. A spokesperson for the PTA said the story was “completely baseless and fabricated” and that it came at a time when “they were ready to go into the auction in an effort to damage the process,” according to Dawn.com.

3G, 4G bidding process now complete

The PTA said their legal counsel would serve the lawsuit to Reuters right after they complete the auction process today. Officials completed the auction just hours ago, so Reuters may be receiving the papers very soon, if the media outlet hasn’t already.

Today the PTA said they raised $1.182 billion by auctioning the 3G and 4G wireless spectrum to Telenor, Ufone, Mobilink and Zong. Zong was the only one of the four to receive 4G spectrum in addition to 3G spectrum. Pakistan officials had initially said they expected to raise $1.2 billion from today’s auction, although they raised that number to $1.3 billion today. They set the base price for a 3G license at $295 million and a 4G license at $210 million. Mobile carriers were allowed to bid for a single 10 MHz bandwidth or the whole spectrum, which is made up of a total of 30 MHz bandwidths.

Pakistan officials said two foreign carriers—Saudi Telecom and Turkcell—had first seemed interested in purchasing the licenses at auction. However, they reportedly decided not to take part in the bidding process.

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