LIME Cayman Islands, the country’s leading mobile operator by subscribers, has won two of the three 700MHz spectrum blocks offered by telecoms regulator the Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA) following Decision 2013-1; the spectrum has been earmarked for the provision of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in the country. LIME has secured the spectrum blocks after winning a ‘beauty contest’ against rival cellco Digicel. In a press release, the watchdog announced that LIME was granted 2×24MHz frequency blocks in the 700MHz band as follows:
• Block B: 2×12MHz paired blocks in the 704MHz-710MHz/734MHz-740MHz band, and
• Block C: 2×12MHz paired blocks in the 710MHz-716MHz/740-746MHz band.
In its application, LIME Cayman Islands stated that the LTE network will provide coverage to 70% of the population by 30 November 2013, while the network footprint is set to increase to 90% of the population by the end of 2013. One month later (31 January 2014), the LTE coverage is expected to extend to 100% of the Grand Cayman population, although ‘there may be a few areas of the Sister Islands that might not be covered’, the telco noted. The ICTA has set a deadline of 7 August 2013 for LIME to file an application for licence amendments, pay the relevant spectrum allocation fees and submit LTE network rollout time-frame.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the ICTA announced the start of a third public discussion on the fate of the 700MHz band in September 2012, following two previous attempts to initiate an auction, in 2009 and 2011. The regulator stipulated that in the event of receiving more than one application for the same block of spectrum, the winning candidate would be determined by a beauty contest. The regulator received two applications for the 700MHz concession in March 2013; LIME requested the 704MHz-710MHz/734MHz-740MHz and 710MHz-716MHz/740MHz-746MHz frequency bands, while the specifics of Digicel’s bid remained undisclosed at the time. However, later it was revealed that both telcos applied for the same spectrum blocks. As things stand, it is unclear whether Digicel intends to lodge an alternative bid for the spectrum comprising Block A.