Finnish regulator to revise 800MHz auction rules to speed up sale process

5 Sep 2013

With a view to speeding up the sale of LTE-suitable spectrum, Finland’s telecoms regulators are said to be preparing new rules for the auction. With the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (FICORA) having informed the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) that it will interrupt the 800MHz spectrum auction, the former has said it will announce the resumption of the sale process once it has completed a review of the auction rules. Reuters, meanwhile, reports that the decision to halt the auction comes amid claims that the sale was taking too long to complete – the auction actually got underway in January 2013. To remedy the situation it is understood that the new auction rules will require bidders to increase their offers in every round of bidding, with this new obligation designed to remove a quirk of the existing auction system, which allows operators to trigger bidding rounds at lower levels by shifting their bids among the different blocks of spectrum being auctioned off.

Commenting on the matter, Pia Viitanen, Finland’s Minister of Housing and Communications, said that the action taken by FICORA was justified, noting: ‘I understand the arguments provided by FICORA. FICORA is the competent authority in the matter and the only party aware of all the phases of the auction … In terms of communications policy, it is essential that the auction will be concluded and people in Finland will be provided with access to faster wireless connections as soon as possible.’

As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in November 2012 the MoTC began accepting applications from those companies wishing to take part in the 800MHz auction, with would-be bidders given until 17 December 2012 to register; companies were required to pay a EUR65,000 (USD86,000) non-refundable participation fee. Further, documentation released by the ministry at that date confirmed that it would offer a total of six frequency pairs of 5MHz each in the 791MHz–821MHz and 832MHz–862MHz bands, with concessions valid for 20 years from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2033. According to the auction rules, a maximum of three 5MHz paired blocks may be granted to any one company within the aforementioned frequency bands. A starting price for the spectrum was, meanwhile, set at EUR16.67 million per paired 5MHz block.