Singapore to hold first 4G spectrum auction in mid-2013

IDA Singapore has revealed plans to allocate a further 270 MHz of 4G spectrum in an auction due for mid-2013.

The regulator announced it would auction off 150 MHz of 1,800-MHz spectrum and 120 MHz of 2.5-GHz wavelengths, with the stipulation that the winners must use the spectrum to offer nationwide LTE services.

IDA Singapore plans to set aside 40 MHz of the 2.5-GHz band for a brand new market entrant – this holding will will only be included if a new player applies to take place in the auction.

The total reserve price for the auction will be S$360 million ($294.2 million), translating to S$16 million per 2×5-MHz block of 1,800 MHz, and S$10 million per 2×5-MHz of 2.5-GHz.

The new spectrum licenses will take effect from mid-2015 for the 2.5-GHz band and from April 2017 for 1.8-GHz. The spectrum rights will have 13-year and 15-year terms respectively.

The auction will have an overall spectrum cap of 2×55 MHz for 2.5-GHz and 2×30 MHz for 1,800-MHz.

According to IDA, in “most cases,” operators will be required to provide nationwide street level coverage within 12 months and coverage for mass transit underground lines and road tunnels within 36 months of the licenses coming into force.

The regulator states it is allocating the licenses 2-4 years early in order to give operators more certainty in their 4G investments.

All three of Singapore’s mobile operators have launched LTE using their existing spectrum rights. SingTel launched its network in December 2011, and extended services to smartphones in June last year. SmarTone’s network went live the following month, and StrarHub had its own launch in September.

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