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Singapore uses spectrum auction as incentive to encourage fourth mobile network to set up

A framework to underpin the auctioning off of spectrum in Singapore later this year has been designed in a way intended to encourage a new mobile network operator to set up business in the country.

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has announced the framework for its mobile spectrum allocation this year, and said that it will encourage the entry of a fourth operator into the market to encourage competition and innovation.

The spectrum auction will take place over two stages, with only new entrants allowed to participate in the first, the IDA said.

The IDA will make 60 MHz of spectrum available within the 900 MHz and 2.3 GHz bands in the new entrant spectrum auction. A pre-qualification check will ensure that bidders are "capable and committed parties", as well as that they do not currently operate a national mobile network in Singapore, it said.

The auction will start at S$35 million ($25 million), the IDA said. Successful bidders will have the right to use the spectrum from as early as April 2017.

The second stage, the general spectrum auction, will be open to existing operators and to any new operator who wants to bid, the IDA said.

Any new entrant will be given until October 2018 to built its network and achieve nationwide outdoor service coverage. Compliance with the IDA's regulations, including quality of service and service resiliency standards, will be imposed "in phases", the authority said.

The decision to hold two auctions follows public consultations on the allocation of spectrum and the need for further competition, the IDA said.  

"Several industry players supported the allocation of more spectrum in view of the increasing consumer demand for mobile data services and the internet of things. Studies have shown that the global mobile data traffic is expected to grow between 40% and 60% over the next few years," the IDA said.

Potential new entrants have also shown an interest, it said.

Jacqueline Poh, managing director of the IDA, said: "This release of spectrum is timely as it will support the growth of applications that rely on data, as well as new growth areas such as the internet of things and machine-to-machine communications."

The IDA will be merged with Singapore's Media Development Authority in April, to form the Infocommunications Media Development Authority of Singapore, to better support the country's Smart Nation plans, the Ministry of Communications and Information said last month

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