Singapore’s IDA will put spectrum rights for 4G services up for bidding next year, in a move that may speed up the launch of LTE in the country.
According to the Straits Times, the IDA had revealed that six lots of spectrum will be put up for auction, enough for service providers to commence 4G rollouts.
The country’s 2.3/2.5GHz spectrum is currently being utilized by SingTel, StarHub, M1, QMax and PacketOne, who had successfully bid in 2005 for spectrum rights through to June 2015. The spectrum was slated to be used for 4G services upon expiry.
The IDA said in an interim proposal that early allocation of spectrum rights would provide market participants with “more certainty”, presumably due to the high investment costs associated with 4G services such as LTE.
With the IDA’s latest move, service providers who bid successfully for the same lot of spectrum could continue using the spectrum and launch 4G service offerings sooner than 2015, upon IDA approval.
SingTel, StarHub and M1 have begun LTE trials on the 2.5GHz spectrum.
The IDA is expected to set an as-yet-undisclosed reserve price for the auction, with the price for spectrum rights expected to run into millions of Singapore dollars. IDA’s deputy chief executive Leong Keng Thai told the Straits Times spectrum rights would run for at least ten years, but declined to estimate how much the government might reap from the auction.
Leong, however, said he believed Singapore’s operators would be “quite sensible”, judging by past auctions. In a 2001 auction, each of the country’s three carriers paid S$100 million ($78.1 million) per lot of 3G spectrum.