SMA sets out plans for 700MHz auction, sweetens deal for newcomers

17 Apr 2013

Jamaica’s Spectrum Management Authority (SMA) has issued a memorandum on the upcoming sale of spectrum in the 700MHz band specifying plans for the auction and detailing the licences available. The SMA will offer up two concessions of 2×12MHz: 704MHz-716MHz with 734MHz-747MHz (Band 17) and 746MHz-758MHz with 776MHz-788MHz (Band 13). A third licence, Band 14 – consisting of 758MHz-770MHz and 788MHz-800MHz ranges – is available but has been withheld from the sale, though the SMA may alter this decision depending on market interest. The regulator noted that operators are only allowed one of the concessions, which contributes to the 80MHz spectrum cap.

In a bid to attract a newcomer to the market, a successful new entrant will be granted a 15-year licence for 2×5MHz in either the 1800MHz or 1900MHz bands with exemption from paying spectrum licence fees, as well as backhaul frequencies (exempt from fees for two years) and the option for a fibre-optic cable licence. New entrants will also be subject to more lenient rollout obligations. Incumbent providers will be obliged to cover 50% of the population within 18 months of receiving the concession and 90% within four years, whilst newcomers will have two years to reach 30% population coverage and five years to reach 90%. Commercial services must be launched within 18 months (24 for newcomers), or the licence will be revoked.

In terms of the auction process itself, the SMA has opted for a sealed bid, single round auction, following the pre-qualification of bidders. Reserve prices were set at USD45.0 million for Band 17 and USD40.0 million for Band 13. The watchdog will issue an official request for bids on 22 May.