BIPT publishes details of upcoming 800MHz spectrum auction

3 Jul 2013

The Belgian Institute for Post and Telecommunications (BIPT) has published an Information Memorandum (IM) for the award of spectrum licences in the 800MHz band suitable for the deployment of 4G services. With the document detailing a number of elements related to the sale process, the BIPT has confirmed that it will make three concessions available, each of which will provide 2×10MHz of 800MHz spectrum. A minimum price for each licence has been set as EUR120 million.

Meanwhile, the regulator has also noted that each applicant can only acquire a single concession, with the BIPT stating that the auction will be open to ‘any organisation that fulfils the application requirements, including both existing providers of electronic communications services in Belgium and potential newcomers’. However, with a view to enticing newcomers to the market, the publication also lays out a number of incentives, including relaxed coverage conditions for those winners that do not hold 2G licences. While existing wireless operators will be required to reach 98% population coverage within six years of being awarded a licence, newcomers will be given nine years to expand its network footprint to that level. Further, while Belgacom, Mobistar and KPN will all be obliged to offer national roaming if they obtain 800MHz spectrum, all other licensees will be entitled to obtain national roaming. Finally, the BIPT has confirmed that the 2×15MHz block of spectrum in the 2.6GHz band that was not allocated in 2011 has been reserved for an 800MHz operator, should one not holding frequencies in that band be successful in the forthcoming auction.

In terms of the method of sale for the 800MHz spectrum, the BIPT has said it intends to use the simultaneous multiple-round ascending bid (SMRA) format, similar to that it has used for previous frequency sales. Also included in the IM is an indicative timetable for the 800MHz auction, in which the regulator has said it expects to issue a call for candidates on 14 August 2013, following which a deadline for the submission of applications will be 23 September 2013. With the notification of successful candidates expected to be carried out on 8 October 2013, the sale itself is tentatively set to begin on 12 November 2013.