Mobile telecoms in Pakistan: At last, 3G

Now we can really start shopping

IN PAKISTAN, as in other poor parts of the world, mobile telecoms are vital to the country’s development, bypassing obstructive bureaucrats and bringing services directly to the masses—from banking to voter registration. Yet it is the only country in South Asia that does not have high-speed mobile internet, because only this week, after eight years of delays and regulatory snarl-ups, did it at last hold an auction of the spectrum required to roll out 3G and 4G services.Demand for the licences fell short of the government’s hopes. The finance minister, Ishaq Dar, had talked of the auction raising $2 billion; in the end it produced just under $1.2 billion. Successful bids were made by two local operators, Mobilink and Ufone, and two foreign ones, China Mobile and Telenor of Norway. Two other big foreign firms that had been expected to take part, Saudi Telecom and Turkcell of Turkey, got cold feet after, it is said, having their request for exclusive one-year licences rejected.

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