Islamabad: Paving the way for introducing 3G technology in Pakistan, the Supreme Court Monday directed the government to appoint a chairman and other members of the telecom regulator in 15 days and to conduct the auction of licences.
"The appointments should be made before proceeding with the 3G licence auction," Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary ruled.
The auction has to be held within 15 days of the appointment of the chairman and members of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), he said.
Chaudhry said there is no organisation that can control grey traffic in the telecom sector worth billions of rupees.
During the hearing, another member of the bench, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, questioned the government’s intention of having a regulatory authority for cellular companies.
Pakistan?s cash-strapped government had promised to sell 3G mobile telephone licences to raise revenue, match regional rivals and drive prosperity.
However, the process has been hit by delays because the cabinet has to first appoint members of the PTA.
Even Afghanistan, with a weaker economy and more fragile security, has the technology. India too has 3G technology and there is now talk of introducing 4G.
According to reports, a growth in broadband penetration is expected to lead 1.3 percent growth in Pakistan's gross domestic product.
There is a growing demand for smartphones in Pakistan and the five telecom companies operating in the country believe there is a huge market for 3G services.
Mobile phone subscribers in Pakistan have crossed the 120-million mark and internet users have reached 30 million. Telecom firms earned approximately 15 percent of their total revenue from VAS (data) services, and of this, roughly 12-13 percent came from GPRS/EDGE (mobile internet) and the demand is expected to increase.