The use of auctions for spectrum renewal seems pointless and likely only to create uncertainty and risk for operators, says Graham Friend, managing director at Coleago Consulting. New entrants know they are likely to be outbid by incumbents and the uncertainty generated dampens the desire of those incumbents to invest and innovate, which is not good at a time when governments want to see a rapid and extensive roll-out of LTE.
The top brass of Brazilian communications regulation gathered at the Institute of Directors in central London today for the latest leg in the 700MHz 4G auction roadshow, with the apparent aim of opening up the process to new bidders outside of the four national incumbents.
Vodafone India said Friday it has spent £1.9bn (INR19,645 crores) on spectrum licenses for 11 circles in the country.
Belgium’s three mobile operators, Belgacom, Mobistar and KPN-owned Base have each received 2 x 10MHz of 800MHz spectrum in the country’s latest spectrum auction, at a price of €120m per allocation. There were no other entrants in the auction, which was run by Belgian regulator BIPT.
The Czech Telecommunications Office (CTU) has announced its LTE auction will begin mid November 2013. The Czech regulator abandoned its efforts to hold the auction in March this year, when bids spiralled out of control.
The head of the Australian telecoms regulator has hit back at allegations that the recent spectrum auction was “damaging to the economy” and dismissed claims that one of the country’s three operators was deterred from participating by high reserve prices. The criticisms were levelled at ACMA by the CEO of spectrum auction planning specialist Coleago Consulting on Wednesday.
The Czech regulator has pulled the plug on an auction for 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz spectrum after bids rocketed out of control.
The presence of BT and PCCW – which owns fixed-wireless 4G operator UK Broadband – among the bidders in the UK’s upcoming 4G spectrum auction has put a new twist on the narrative for the country’s mobile market. In the run-up to the auction, which will see regulator Ofcom sell off the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequencies, the perceived wisdom was that challenger operator 3 UK would pick up the 800MHz block reserved for an operator that holds no sub-1GHz spectrum, and the rest would be business as usual. However, with these companies entering the fray, the picture becomes much murkier.
Tuesday marks the next important milestone in the UK’s telecoms market as prospective bidders submit applications for 4G spectrum.
Between 10:00 and 16:00 on December 11, 2012, interested parties are able to submit applications, accompanied by an initial deposit of £100,000 into Ofcom’s bank account. The passing of the deadline takes the UK one step closer to the completion of a highly controversial and long-awaited spectrum action, which is expected to be finalised by February or March next year.
Indonesia’s biggest mobile operator by some margin, Telkomsel, has been declared bankrupt on a technicality, throwing an auction for additional 3G spectrum into disarray.
A court in India has ruled that Norwegian operator group Telenor may only bid for spectrum in the country’s upcoming 2G auction if it does so as part of its joint venture with Indian real estate firm Unitech. The auction is now set to be held in January 2013, after the Supreme Court of India granted the government another deadline extension.
LTE services could be launched in the UK in as early as three weeks, after the country’s regulator has given permission to Everything Everywhere (EE) to use its existing 1800 MHz spectrum to deliver the technology to consumers. Ofcom has ruled that the operator will be allowed to launch LTE services at any point from September 11, 2012.
The UK is already seen as Europe’s most complex and fragmented telecoms market and it now looks set to add another unwanted title to its repertoire as that of Europe’s 4G laggard. Europe’s telecoms markets are already dividing into two camps of 4G “haves” and “have-nots” and the UK lies firmly stuck in the latter. The auction proposal set out this week by Ofcom means that the UK will not see 4G LTE services go live until later in 2013 at the earliest, putting UK mobile consumers almost four years behind the world’s leading 4G markets.
UK regulator Ofcom has unveiled plans for the country’s 4G spectrum auction. The UK has lagged other leading markets and Ofcom has revealed that spectrum will be allocated in 2013. Ofcom has set aside spectrum intended to guarantee the presence of four LTE operators in the UK market.
The Supreme Court of India has cancelled 122 telecoms licences that were awarded in the country’s 2G auction. The country sold its 2G spectrum licences in 2008 on a first-come, first-served basis. However, it emerged that they were sold unlawfully, with former cabinet minister Andimuthu Raja currently in jail awaiting trial for his role in the scandal. As a result, it is estimated that the country lost around $40bn in lost revenue by not auctioning the licences.
French regulator Arcep has said that it has awarded 4G licences in the 800Mhz band to the incumbent operators Bouygues, Orange and SFR. Fourth applicant Free Mobile, owned by Iliad, was not successful. All four operators were previously awarded 4G licences at 2.6GHz.
The Greek mobile market is in a spin this week after national regulator the EETT issued a proposal for the re-auctioning of GSM spectrum licenses which are due to expire in 2012. The move is controversial because it is an unusual renewal process, but also because the authority has set reserve prices at more than double the European average.
Surging mobile data growth and network congestion have created demand for additional spectrum. Governments seeking to reduce national borrowing are anxious to auction additional spectrum to raise revenue whilst also promoting access to broadband services. Mobile operators have little choice but to participate or potentially suffer a loss of competitive advantage.
The UK arm of Telefónica, O2, has released a statement blasting UK regulator Ofcom’s consultation over the forthcoming digital dividend spectrum auction.
The operator is objecting to the use of spectrum floors, whereby at least four operators will get at least 10MHz of spectrum below 1GHz. However, O2 believe that these spectrum floors amount to a state aid, which would make them illegal under EU law.
The French auction for LTE spectrum is now imminent after French digital economy minister Éric Besson signed a decree launching the tender for operators to submit their bids, The process will begin in the coming days, French newspaper Le Monde reported, once the announcement is published in an official gazette. Operators will have until September to submit their bids.