Telenor and MPT apply for spectrum auction
The two telecoms operators will be among the potential bidders at an auction for more broadband spectrum, while Ooredoo has decided not to bid.
TELECOMS companies Telenor and state-owned MPT will be among the potential bidders at a long-awaited auction for more broadband spectrum next month, while rival telco Ooredoo has decided to wait for a separate auction it expects to happen later in the year.
Spectrum – the radio frequency on which communication traffic can be sent – is a crucial resource for telcos, mobile operators and service providers, who rely on it to provide and expand coverage.
The new government will hold its first spectrum auction – for a 40 megahertz (MHz) slice of the 2600MHz band – on October 17. Under the auction’s terms this 40MHz is available only for the provision of broadband data services.
The previous government cancelled a planned auction on the 2600MHz band earlier in the year after criticism from Telenor and Oordeoo about the lack of a clear policy for spectrum management.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications published a list of companies last week that had made expressions of interest (EOI) in the October auction, and a list of those selected as potential bidders.
Telenor and MPT both made EOIs and were chosen as potential bidders (see list), but Ooredoo did not apply. Selected bidders still need to meet financial and technical criteria – including providing a US$500,000 deposit – to be on a list of qualified bidders, which will be announced in late September.
Of the firms that made EOIs only two – Eager Communication and Bluewave Broadband – were not chosen as potential bidders. An official in the Posts and Telecommunications Department said this was because neither held a Network Facilities Service (Individual) License – another criteria for application.
Rene Meza, Ooredoo’s CEO in Myanmar, said the firm’s priority is the 1800MHz spectrum, which will allow Ooredoo to roll out its 4G network more efficiently. Lower-frequencies are better able to penetrate walls and are more suitable for expanding coverage.
Mr Meza is expecting the 1800MHz auction before the end of this year, although officials at the ministry’s Posts and Telecommunications Department would only say it will be held “as soon as possible”.
Ooredoo became the first Myanmar telco to offer fourth-generation services in May, and recently told The Myanmar Times it now has half a million 4G users across Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw.
Telenor rolled out 4G in Nay Pyi Taw in July, and is testing the service in Yangon Shan State’s Muse and Myawaddy in Kayin State. Like its Qatari rival, Telenor is looking forward to the 1800MHz auction, but has applied to bid on the 2600MHz band too.
A spokesperson for Telenor declined to comment on what the firm would use an additional 2600MHz allocation for, or what regions it would bid for. An official at MPT also declined to comment.
The auction structure divides the 40MHz on offer into two 20MHz chunks, which are in turn available in three separate regions. This means there are six separate 20MHz slices on offer.
A bidder cannot win more than 20MHz in any one region, and can only win up to two regional 20MHz slices.
Region one encompasses Nay Pyi Taw, Magwe, Bago and Tanintharyi regions and Mon and Kayin states. Region two is Yangon and Ayeyarwaddy regions and Rakhine State. Region three is Mandalay and Sagaing regions and Chin, Shan, Kachin and Kayah states.
Pedestrians walk past a mobile store in Yangon.