January 17, 2012 / 3:00 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Pakistan to hold 3G licences auction on March 29-official

(Adds details, background)

ISLAMABAD, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Pakistan will hold an auction for its first licences for third-generation (3G) mobile telecom services on March 29, an official at the country’s telecoms authority said on Tuesday.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) Chairman Mohammed Yaseen said the base price for the auction would be $210 million.

“We’re expecting 10 to 15 potential investors in the initial bidding process,” Yaseen told Reuters.

He said the amount bidders would deposit with initial expressions of interest — to indicate the seriousness of a bid — would be $31.5 million and licence terms would be from eight to 15 years.

Pakistan had more than 111 million mobile phone users in October 2011, according to the PTA, equivalent to around 65 percent of all Pakistanis.

Pakistan’s existing operators include Mobilink, a unit of Egypt-based Orascom Telecom, Norway’s Telenor , Warid Telecom, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi Group and SingTel Group, China Mobile Communication Cooperation’s Zong, and Ufone, owned by the Emirates Telecommunication Corporation Group, Etisalat, according to the PTA website.

Yaseen said existing licence operators could start offering 3G services immediately after being awarded a licence, while new operators would be able to provide 3G services from March 2013. (Reporting by Qasim Nauman; Writing by Serena Chaudhry; Editing by Dan Lalor and David Holmes)

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