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Spectrum Newsletter – March 2018

Inigo Barker Analyst

This edition of the Spectrum Newsletter for July 2017–March 2018 highlights spectrum auction activity worldwide in four regions.

Notable auctions during this period include the following.

  • Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s February 2018 multi-band auction raised less than half of its USD1.34 billion target, and only 30% of spectrum on sale was bought. Lots in the 900MHz, 1.8GHz and 2.1GHz band were open to bids, and Grameenphone and Bangalink made acquisitions.
  • Indonesia. Telkomsel, the Indonesian incumbent, won a 30MHz block of 2.3GHz spectrum – this constitutes a significant addition to its network capacity. In the 2.1GHz auction of the same month, 3 and Indosat Ooredoo won a 2×5MHz block each. USD127.373 million was raised by the Ministry of Communication and Informatics (MCIT) from both auctions.
  • Australia. 39 lots across a range of different frequency bands were put up for sale in an auction that saw five operators (NBN Co, Optus, Telstra, TPG and Vodafone Australia) snapping up spectrum. Telstra emerged as the biggest spender. 6 of the 29 lots were not offered at auction as only one auction participant submitted bids for them; the ACMA has decided to offer these lots to the applicant at the starting price.

The following regions and associated topics are covered.

The Americas (Latin America and North America)

  • Four different operators participated in Argentina’s 2.5–2.6GHz auction.
  • Mexico’s 2.5GHz auction looks set to go ahead with every indication suggesting that América Móvil will be allowed to participate.
  • The Brazilian regulator is actively considering allocating spectrum in the S-Band.
  • A multi-band auction schedule has been proposed by the Canadian government.
  • Costa Rica’s national regulator, Sutel, raised USD43 million from sales of spectrum in the 1.8GHz and 2.1GHz bands.
  • Claro and Personal won spectrum in Paraguay’s 700MHz auction.
  • URSEC, the Uruguayan telecoms regulator, sold frequency in the 700MHz and 1.7/2.1GHz bands to Claro and Movistar.
  • FiberTower was obligated to return some of its spectrum licences to the FCC.
  • T Mobile US sought permission from the national regulator to purchase spectrum from a regional player.
  • The FCC is investigating the case for allocating mid-level and mmWave spectrum.

Asia–Pacific (emerging and developed Asia–Pacific)

  • Lots across seven different bands were auctioned off by Australia’s ACMA.
  • Bangladesh’s much-anticipated 4G auction failed to raise as much as hoped.
  • Taiwanese operators committed to pay USD938.43 million overall for spectrum across two different bands.
  • Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Informatics raised USD137.373 million from the sale of spectrum in the 2.1GHz and 2.3GHz bands.
  • India is soon to launch a multi-band spectrum auction.
  • South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT has formally published its 5G spectrum allocation strategy.
  • The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has set aside some spectrum exclusively for 5G.
  • The Philippines’ NTC continues to push forward its plans to launch a third operator.

Europe (Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe)

  • LMT, a Latvian operator, acquired spectrum in the 3.4–3.45GHz and 3.65–3.7GHz bands.
  • Spectrum in the 1.8GHz band was sold off by EETT, Greece’s telecoms watchdog, for EUR201.45 million.
  • Net 1 bought spectrum in the 450MHz range in Sweden.
  • Two spectrum licences in the 1.8GHz band were annulled by the Polish telecommunications watchdog.
  • Kyivstar, Lifecell and Vodafone acquired 4G licences in spectrum auctions in Ukraine.
  • Four operators made spectrum acquisitions in the Czech Republic.
  • Arqiva bought spectrum from intelligent managed services provider, Luminet, in the UK.
  • Spectrum trial licences were issued by ARCEP in France.
  • 5G spectrum auctions are anticipated in Germany before the end of the year.

The Middle East and Africa

  • The results of Angola’s 800MHz auction have not been disclosed in full.
  • Airtel paid USD25 million for a 4G licence in the 800MHz band.
  • Saudi Arabia’s CITC confiscated recently allocated spectrum from Etihad Atheeb Telecommunications on the grounds that the operator had failed to pay its first instalment.