Venezuela’s government plans to launch an auction for mobile spectrum in the 1800MHz and 1900MHz bands on 11 July, in a move aimed at encouraging the spread of mobile services to the entire population, reports BNamericas, quoting local paper El Universal. Spectrum winners are expected to begin offering services by 13 November, according to the report. The state is planning to award 15-year concessions with starting bids of USD120 million, and says it will take into consideration quality of service, coverage plans, existing infrastructure deployed by bidders, and the monetary value of the bid. CDMA operators Movistar, owned by Spain’s Telefónica, and Movilnet, the mobile unit of fixed line incumbent CANTV, both say they need more spectrum to expand their services. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database notes that Movistar is currently deploying a GSM 850MHz network, under a contract awarded to Nokia in August 2006, to align its operations with its sister companies across Latin America. Originally planned to launch in October, in December 2006 Movistar’s GSM services were soft launched in selected areas, with a full-scale launch scheduled by mid-2007. Meanwhile, Movilnet announced in February 2007 that it plans to invest USD250 million to roll out a GSM network. Venezuela’s third cellco, domestically owned Digitel, already offers national GSM-900 services, since amalgamating the GSM networks of two regional operators, Digicel and Infonet, in May 2006. The government is aiming for all towns with more than 500 inhabitants to have access to telecoms services by 2011.