Pakistan is expecting up to $2 billion inflows through likely resolution of a dispute with Etisalat and renewal of cellular licenses in the ongoing fiscal year. For the purpose, the government has constituted an inter-ministerial committee.The committee would deliberate and resolve the issues of renewal of cellular licenses and PTCL privatisation issue, besides devising a resolution mechanism for all outstanding matters, including payment of “outstanding” $800 million after a high-level agreement with a UAE delegation. According to documents, rationalisation of $800 million deal is expected to benefit PTICL around Rs 1 billion annually.However, Finance Minister Asad Umar said that agreement with Dubai-based Etisalat is still being discussed”. Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said the government was expecting a major breakthrough with Etisalat to resolve the much-awaited $800 million outstanding “dues” on account of PTCL privatization. “The recent engagements with Etisalat remained very positive and likely to reach some conclusion very soon,” he added. Moreover, licenses of three cellular mobile operators – awarded by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) under the Cellular Mobile Policy for a period of 15 years in 2004 – are due for renewal in May 2019.Previously, two operators – Mobilink and Ufone – have renewed their license with a total cost of $291 million for GSM services after the expiry of 15-year period. The 15-year licenses of three mobile operators – Telenor, Zong and Warid Telecom – are due to expire in 2019. The remaining two mobile operators, Jazz (Mobilink) and Ufone are not due for renewal until 2022 and 2029, respectively. Sources said that renewal of licenses might $1-2 billion for Pakistan.An assessment study has been conducted that will examine the renewal period of licenses awarded to cellular operators along with utilization of their allocated spectrums. Operators such as Telenor, Zong and Mobilink (Warid) will be required to apply for such renewals licenses again. Warid, Zong and Telenor Pakistan had already approached the PTA for renewal of license. Warid and Zong have given their consent without any condition; however, Telenor has proposed a few changes in license renewal process, including terms and payment issues.But it depends on the new framework of licenses regime by the telecom authority, especially after the award of licenses and spectrum of 3G/ 4G technologies to various operators.The PTA has tasked a consultant with conducting study/assessment in detail on the existing licensing framework of Pakistan and international best practice on license renewal. The telecom authority describes this assessment study as part of its vision to create a fair regulatory regime to promote investment, encourage competition, protect consumer interest and ensure high quality Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services in the country.In the case of renewal of licenses, PTA will make recommendations to federal government within the timelines stipulated in the respective licenses. “Other spectrum not subject to license renewal terms will be priced in accordance with the applicable spectrum pricing methods specified. Where spectrum payments for microwave and mobile spectrum have been introduced subsequent to the initial assignment of mobile spectrum, the spectrum fees associated with the mobile spectrum will be determined under the terms of the applicable license. Any microwave spectrum will then be charged using the AIP method in place.”Published in Daily Times, December 13th 2018.