TRA relaunches GSM-1800 'guard band' frequency licence auction

17 Feb 2009

Bahrain’s Telecoms Regulatory Authority (TRA) has invited bids for an allocation of 1800MHz band GSM wireless frequencies, referred to as the ‘guard band’, which failed to attract any qualifying applicants in a previous tender last year. On offer is a single 15-year licence with an initial 5MHz assignment of radio spectrum (1790MHz–1795MHz) and a further 5MHz block (1795MHz–1800MHz) reserved for the successful bidder, to be requested for assignment no earlier than twelve months after the licence award and no later than 24 months from receipt of the concession. The TRA will maintain a minimum 5MHz guard band between the new licensed frequencies and existing GSM-1800 services. Two bids received in December 2008 were non-compliant with the auction rules, forcing the TRA to rerun the process. Companies have until 23 April to submit bids and the winner is due to be announced by the end of May. It has been suggested that the guard band GSM frequencies are suitable for niche services used by public utility companies, vehicle fleets and wireless security applications amongst other possibilities.

Last month Saudi Telecom Company (STC) won the third national mobile network operating licence in Bahrain, where it will compete with state-run Batelco and Kuwaiti-owned Zain. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database notes that STC received the following spectrum as part of its 15-year 2G/3G concession: 2×5.6MHz in the GSM-900 band, 2×15MHz in the GSM-1800 band, 2×15MHz in the 1900MHz/2100MHz UMTS (FDD) bands and a 5MHz UMTS TDD block. The three existing cellcos are not allowed to take part in the current GSM-1800 auction.