Spanish cablecos could get mobile licences this year

4 Jan 2011

The Spanish government could offer the country’s major cablecos their own mobile voice concessions as early as sometime this year, according to reports by El Economista. It is understood that under a draft decree operators such as Euskaltel, R and Telecable could be offered the opportunity to acquire as much as 15MHz of spectrum in the 2600MHz band in their respective areas of operation, while Grupo Corporativo ONO, the country’s largest cableco by subscribers, may also be allowed to bid for mobile frequencies in a number of regions, including Valencia, Catalonia, Murcia, Andalusia, Castilla Leon, Castilla La Mancha and the Balearic Islands.

In addition, the draft decree also details plans by the government to take back spectrum in the 900MHz band from the country’s existing mobile network operators; Movistar will be required to hand back two 2.2MHz blocks it currently holds, while Vodafone Spain and Orange Espana will be asked to return two blocks of 2MHz and two blocks of 1MHz respectively. The recovered frequencies will then be offered via auction, with both Movistar and Vodafone barred from taking part in the sale process. The wireless market’s three major players, it has been proposed, will also be required to hand back spectrum totalling 5MHz in the 1800MHz band, which will then be reallocated via tender. With a view to preventing any imbalances in spectrum allocation the government has set restrictions of 20MHz per operator for frequencies in the low bands, while a limit of 55MHz will be in place for high-band spectrum.

The state is also considering action it can take in the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) arena, to which end the decree states that major network operators holding more than 10MHz of 900MHz spectrum – namely Movistar, Vodafone and Orange – will be required to provide wholesale access in that band.