Dishing out spectrum fairly
THE recent disclosure by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) related to the refarming of the 700MHz spectrum is welcome.
Carrying out this role is a crucial task that has to be done with fairness and openness.
While the document is out, it is hoped that the process of applying and dishing out the spectrum to interested corporations is executed well; and that any form of lobbying is not entertained.
The MCMC says the tender for the 700MHz spectrum will be carried out through a “beauty contest” process.
So, in all hopes, the award of the spectrum will be based on merit, which can be gauged from the respective business or marketing plans of the telcos, as that can give an indication of how well the allocated spectrum will be used.
Among the crucial questions to ask are whether these parties are using the spectrum allocated to them to the fullest or not; or on the contrary, whether they are acting like rent seekers by just leasing it out.
The MCMC has resorted to a tender process in awarding telecom spectrum since the launch of 3G licences in 2002. To be fair, the previous spectrum allocations by the MCMC had been done in a fair and orderly manner. Hence, it ought to continue doing so. Interested parties should refrain from aggressive lobbying, which sometimes takes place in Malaysia.
The MCMC - which was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1998, with a mandate to call for tenders and assign spectrum to local telcos – should, therefore, ensure that there is no slow walking in the tender process, and that the criteria for selection is strictly adhered to without any political interference. It should also do so for the future lease of the 2,300MHz and 2,800MHz bands.