BIPT outlines 3G/4G spectrum sale plans

8 Feb 2011

The Belgian Institute for Post and Telecommunications (BIPT) has unveiled the timeline for auctions of both 3G and 4G concessions, and has set up a website specifically detailing the process.

The initial stage of the tender process for 3G spectrum in the 2100MHz band will start next month, with a call for applications from 15 March 2011. The deadline for submissions has been set as 29 April 2011, following which the regulator will announce which applicants have been permitted to bid on 16 May, and the auction itself will then start on 6 June 2011. Under the watchdog’s proposals, it has said that ‘one or more new 3G licences will be auctioned’, while it has noted that any new 3G operator will also be given the opportunity to acquire spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz band. The country’s existing three mobile network operators – Belgacom Mobile (Proximus), Mobistar and KPN Group (BASE) – are already licensed to offer third-generation services, having each been awarded UMTS concessions in March 2001 via an auction process, paying the EUR150 million (USD131.8 million) minimum bid price set by the BIPT.

Subsequently, concessions for spectrum in the 2600MHz band suitable for 4G services will be offered after the 3G sale is completed. According to the BIPT’s indicative timetable, a call for applications will start on 1 June 2011, with would-be bidders given until 15 September 2011 to make their submission. Those that are approved to bid are expected to be informed on 30 September, with the start of the auction for 4G spectrum likely to take place in mid-October.

Commenting on the development, Luc Hindryckx, chairman of the BIPT, noted: ‘The rates of mobile internet in Belgium rank among the highest in Europe. The entry of a fourth mobile operator will bring a new dynamism to the market: innovation will be stimulated and rates will be more accessible to consumers.’