Wireless auction finally gets green light

17 Mar 2010

BNamericas writes that Costa Rica’s comptroller and attorney general have given telecoms regulator Sutel the green light to go ahead with an auction for mobile spectrum after completing a probe into a suspected conflict of interests regarding one of the potential bidders. Sutel postponed the publication of bidding rules on 5 February for the auction of spectrum blocks in the 850MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands for ‘logistical’ reasons. However, Sutel head George Miley later told BNamericas the auction had been delayed to allow an enquiry into a possible conflict of interest regarding a law firm and Irish-owned mobile operator Digicel. Newspapers previously revealed that BLP, a local law firm contracted by US consultancy TGM, which advised Sutel in drawing up the bidding rules, worked with Digicel when the company was registering its brand in the country several years ago. In the statement, Sutel said that the authorities were satisfied that there was no conflict of interest or illegality and that the process would be carried out in a transparent manner. The watchdog said that the bidding rules would be ready over the next few days once it has resolved some issues regarding the frequency available. Sutel has previously said it would adopt a hybrid model for the spectrum auction, spreading spectrum out over three bands and in three blocks to ensure the same number of new entrants.

Each of the three blocks will amount to 60MHz. Two of the blocks will each have 2×15MHz in the 1800MHz band and 2×15MHz in the 2100MHz band, while the third concession will consist of two blocks of 5MHz in 850MHz band, 2×15MHz in the 1800MHz band and 2×10MHz in the 2100MHz band. Telefonica, Cable & Wireless, Millicom, Digicel and America Movil have all expressed interest in participating in the tender.

Costa Rica