Costa Rica’s telecoms regulator SUTEL has published a preliminary request for bids for three mobile licences after the Comptroller’s Office dropped a conflicts of interest probe which has delayed bidding by three months. With the publication of the much awaited bidding rules, interested parties are expected to send in their observations before a final version of the rules is made available. The draft proposes that technical bids should be presented and opened 30 working days after the publication of the definitive rules, and prequalified companies announced no more than 15 days afterwards. Three licences are up for grabs for spectrum blocks in the 850MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands. Spectrum will be spread out over three bands and in three blocks to ensure equality for the new entrants.
SUTEL president George Miley said it hopes to award concessions as early as September, and expects bidding to be comparable to recent auctions in Honduras and Panama that exceeded USD80 million. Companies rumoured to be interested in bidding include Irish-owned mobile operator Digicel, America Movil, Telefonica, Cable & Wireless and Millicom International Cellular. With the exception of Cuba, Costa Rica is the last remaining Latin American country with a state telecoms monopoly.