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India announces 2G auction details, Pakistan to delay 3G auction

The TRAI has released a new consultation paper ahead of the country's 2G reauction

The Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has released fresh guidelines ahead of the country’s 2G (re)auction, after the Supreme Court of India cancelled the 122 licences that were awarded in 2008.

The consultation paper follows draft guidelines that were issued last month, and aims to simplify licensing rules, encourage mergers and acquisition and provide greater transparency in the spectrum allocation process.

“The key issues raised in the consultation paper are quantum of spectrum to be auctioned, liberalisation of the spectrum, refarming of spectrum in 800/900MHz bands, structure of auction, spectrum block size, eligibility criteria for participating in the auction, reserve price, roll out obligations, spectrum usage charges and spectrum trading,” said Rajeev Agrawal, secretary at TRAI.

He added that the body is inviting comments on the issues raised in the paper from the stakeholders by March 21, 2012.

Meanwhile, across the border, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has delayed its 3G spectrum auction, which was due to be held on March 29, 2012,  due to “great interest shown by operators through their representatives in World Mobile Congress”.

The PTA said that the delaye will allow operators more time and room to plan.

“The current schedule of Mobile Cellular Auction is under review. Fresh dates will be posted in due course of time,” the body said on its website.

According to the initial plans, the 3G licenses will be valid for 8 to 15 years, with a mandatory $ 31.5m deposit for bidders. – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

Warid Telecom intros mobile money service in Pakistan

Warid telecom has teamed up with Bank Alfalah to launch a mobile money service

Warid telecom has teamed up with Bank Alfalah to launch a mobile money service

Pakistani operator Warid Telecom has teamed up with Bank Alfalah to launch a mobile money service. The service, Mobile Paisa, will initially enable users to make utility bill payments and secure money transfers across Pakistan. The operator said that it plans introduce further services in the near future.

Bank Alfalah is owned by the Abu Dhabi Group and operates 500 branches across 170 cities in Pakistan. Warid Telecom is also owned by the Abu Dhabi Group.

The two firms called on mobile financial services solutions provider Fundamo and cloud solutions provider Monet for the technology that underpins the deployment, which they claim is a first for Pakistan.

“Mobile Paisa has been designed keeping in view today’s financial needs,” said Younas Sheikh, chief commercial officer at Warid Telecom. “This service will provide a secure channel for daily financial transactions such as money transfer and payment of utility bills. This is what ‘Mobile Paisa’ set out to innovate and we will keep on adding to the amazing features.”

Amaar Naveed Ikhlas, head of branchless banking at Bank Alfalah, added : “In this era of modernisation and technical development, it is essential to digitise and hence enhance transacting convenience through a secure and swift system.”

The value of international money transfers made via mobile phones was set to exceed $ 10bn for the first time in 2013, according to Juniper Research. However, the cost and complexity of regulating cash transfer had led many service providers to focus exclusively on airtime top ups, the research firm reported.

Microsoft faces bribe allegations in Russia and Pakistan

bribeSoftware giant Microsoft is facing bribery allegations in Russia and Pakistan. The firm said it is cooperating with the US government to investigate whether Microsoft employees and business partners have engaged in illegal activity in the two markets.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are extending existing investigations into similar allegations in China, Romania and Italy.

It reported that an anonymous tipster has now told Microsoft about its software resellers in Russia allegedly bribing executives of a state-owned firm to win a deal and in Pakistan it has been alleged that Microsoft authorised a consulting firm to pay for a five-day trip to Egypt for a government official and his wife in order to win a tender.

“We take every allegation seriously, and we cooperate fully in any government inquiries,” said John Frank, vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft.

“Like other large companies with operations around the world, we sometimes receive allegations about potential misconduct by employees or business partners, and we investigate them fully, regardless of the source. We also invest heavily in proactive training, monitoring and audits to ensure our business operations around the world meet the highest legal and ethical standards.”

Frank added that Microsoft has more than 50 people whose primary role is investigating potential breaches of company policy, and an additional 120 people whose primary role is compliance.

“This is a reflection of the size and complexity of our business, and the seriousness with which we take meeting our obligations,” he added.

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Pakistan to hold spectrum auction in March 2012

Pakistan will hold its spectrum auction in 2012, the PTA has announced

Pakistan’s Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has announced plans to hold the country’s spectrum auction in March of this year. The body said that the licenses issued will be technology neutral and the auction winners will be able to deploy 3G or 4G-LTE technologies.

The auction has been delayed several times already, but the PTA said that it is now in preparing an information memorandum for the auctioning process.

The auction process will be overseen by a joint professional group, the Auction Supervisory Committee, comprising of public sector stakeholders, including representatives of the country’s Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information Technology and the PTA. The PTA has also set up its own committee for making preparations to conduct the auction in the most possible transparent manner.

“It is pertinent to mention that the introduction of cellular mobile broadband services in the country will initiate a new economic cycle in the country and accrue great benefits for the national economy,” said PTA director Muhammad Younis.

“It will also usher in new era for proliferation of a number of new applications for data intensive value added services.  This will greatly fulfill the requirement and demands of cellular mobile phone subscribers and professionals who are eagerly waiting for this service.”

According to news agency Reuters, the base price for the auction would be $ 210m, and any incumbent mobile networks awarded a 3G license will be able to offer services immediately, although new entrants will not be allowed into the market until March 2013. – telecoms industry news, analysis and opinion

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