Friday, November 26, 2010

Switzerland preps next-gen spectrum auctions

Switzerland aims to sell mobile frequencies in 2011 - Reuters

Auction may net several hundred million Swiss francs

Switzerland has outlined plans to sell additional radio frequencies in the first half of next year. The invitation to tender is taking place with particular reference to the expiry of the GSM and 3G licenses in 2013 and 2016, respectively.

In addition, Switzerland should be one of the first countries in Europe to put the frequencies from the so-called "digital dividend" in the 800 MHz range out to tender. This wide range of mobile radio frequencies will be uniformly put out to tender for use up to the end of 2028.

The auction will be conducted using an electronic auction system from the English company DotEcon. This system allows secure bidding over the internet and has already been used successfully in Denmark, UK, Holland, Norway, Sweden and Hong Kong.

The frequencies will be awarded in a technology-neutral manner so that it will also be possible to use the latest mobile radio technologies such as LTE. The regulator added that the early allocation of frequencies and a utilisation period extending up to the end of 2028 will enable licensees to plan for the long term and to make their investments on a solid foundation. Furthermore, additional frequencies will enable network operators to meet the booming demand for mobile broadband services.

Both the existing mobile radio licensees (Orange, Sunrise, Swisscom, and In&Phone) and any new operators which wish to participate in the auction have until 18 March 2011 to submit a candidature dossier to OFCOM. In it they must specify the maximum amount of spectrum they wish to purchase within the individual bands. They must also lodge a bank guarantee in the amount of the minimum bid for the frequencies they are applying for. They must also prove that they can meet the statutory licensing requirements and the specific obligations of the invitation to tender. If a candidate meets the requirements, it will be authorised by ComCom to take part in the auction.

It is planned to hold the auction in the first half of 2011 and to issue the licences afterwards. To prevent possible collusion and agreements between the bidders as far as possible, ComCom will not make known the names of the candidates. The names of the candidates, the winners, the acquired frequencies and the auction price will only be published after the conclusion of the auction.

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