At least six line up for Spanish GSM auction

12 May 2005

According to the Spanish Ministry of Industry, at least half a dozen telcos have requested information on the forthcoming auction of three mobile spectrum licences. Although the Ministry declined to name the interested parties for the GSM-900 licences, local press sources suggest that incumbent cellcos Telefónica Móviles, Vodafone Spain and Amena will take part. Bids must be submitted before the end of today and the winners will be announced on 15 June. The tender is unlikely to create a new player however, as the spectrum on offer is not enough to set up a fully competitive network. Nonetheless, the Ministry says it would welcome any new entrant, adding that a start-up could emerge if it managed to sign agreements to share bandwidth with an existing network operator.

Domestic UMTS licensee Xfera has reportedly requested information on the tender process, but is unlikely to bid, although Mexico-based mobile operator América Móvil has said it will take part. The winning bidders must either pay licence fees or promise direct network investments worth a minimum of EUR32.5 million, and agree to invest specific amounts in rural areas. The concessions are valid for 15 years and require the holder to provide coverage to all cities with more than 250,000 inhabitants within the first year.