The Belgian Institute for Post and Telecommunications (BIPT) has announced that, with the deadline having now passed for applications for the forthcoming sale of 4G-capable spectrum in the 800MHz band, three companies are looking to take part in the auction. According to a statement published by the regulator, it will now analyse applications from the would-be bidders with a view to publishing a list confirming which submissions have been accepted on 8 October 2013. The identity of the bidders has not been disclosed. Further, the BIPT has also now confirmed the start date for the sale itself, with the auction expected to get underway on 12 November 2013 in line with previously announced plans.
In total, three concessions will be put up for grabs, with each of those offering a 2×10MHz block of spectrum in the 800MHz band for a 20-year term. While each spectrum allocation will include coverage obligations, the BIPT noted that one will have additional requirements pertaining to the rollout of service in a number of rural areas. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in July this year the BIPT announced a number of incentives to entice newcomers to the market, including relaxed coverage conditions for those winners that did not hold 2G licences. While existing wireless operators would, it said, be required to reach 98% population coverage within six years of being awarded a licence, newcomers would be given nine years to expand their network footprint to that level. Further, while Belgacom, Mobistar and KPN would all be obliged to offer national roaming if they win 800MHz spectrum, all other licensees would be entitled to obtain national roaming. Meanwhile, with each candidate only permitted to acquire one of the licences on offer, the BIPT reiterated that the minimum bid price for each concession has been set as EUR120 million (USD162 million).
Having confirmed both the timetable for the auction and the number of companies seeking to take part, the BIPT said that it viewed the allocation of the 800MHz frequency band as ‘crucial’ to providing the Belgian population with high speed mobile internet services.