Clash complicates 2600MHz auction

A spectrum auction scheduled for the end of March may not come off as outlined in initial plans, as the communications ministry is still weighing commentary from the telecoms industry.

At the beginning of February, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) posted a consultative document about the auction of 140MHz of spectrum in the 2600MHz band.

The document, available on MCIT’s website, put the spectrum sale date at the end of March, with the final auction framework due to come out on February 22.

But industry suggestions sought by the ministry drummed up opposing viewpoints on spectrum, a crucial and lucrative resource for telecoms companies that carries voice and data traffic.

A call for spectrum’s speedy release conflicted with others who said that guidelines should be finished before the resource is sold, according to Posts and Telecommunications director U Than Htun Aung.

“We didn’t expect such a … range of contrasting views on the process,” he said. “[It] may not be completed by the end of March.”

Multinational mobile operators Telenor and Ooredoo have both said they’d like a spectrum roadmap set up before the resource goes to the auction block.

“Auctions should follow once the roadmap is in place,” wrote Ooredoo Myanmar CEO Rene Meza in an email in early February. “To conduct beforehand a hasty, insufficiently planned auction is truly putting the cart before the horse.”

Mr Meza said yesterday that Ooredoo was still waiting for the auction guidelines. “The last communication was that the auction would happen on [March] 24,” he said. “But with the guidelines being delayed this much, the likelihood of all operators being ready for the auction [on that date] is probably challenging.”

The spectrum sale was brought up in parliament last month in conjunction with an “urgent proposal” put forward by National League for Democracy Pyithu Hluttaw MP for Pale township Daw Khin San Hlaing, which encouraged government scrutiny of an apparent fire-sale of assets, as previously reported by The Myanmar Times.

Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) joint operations CEO Takashi Nagashima said the auction’s timing might have come down to Myanmar’s political changeover. The country’s new government will put forward its nominees for the presidency on March 10.

“We knew [the 2600MHz] auction was postponed in mid-February,” Mr Nagashima said yesterday. “It may be because of the political transition, but we don’t know exactly why.”

However, U Than Htun Aung said the political handover was not relevant. “The process has become a little bit more complicated,” he said. “It is not officially delayed, but it takes more time to finalise.”

 

Source: Myanmar Times

 

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