The Costa Rican government has instructed the Superintendency of Telecommunications (Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones, Sutel) to begin the process of allocating 70MHz of unused spectrum in the 1800MHz and 1900MHz/2100MHz bands, left over from the 2010 auction. El Financiero cites Deputy Minister of Telecommunications Emilio Arias as saying that the spectrum would be distributed in a transparent manner, via a competitive auction, potentially paving the way for a fourth cellco to enter the sector. The specifics of the tender process have yet to be decided, however, and Sutel has appointed a team of experts to hammer out a framework for the sale. One of the main questions to be resolved by the regulator will be the involvement in the tender of state-backed operator Grupo Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (Grupo ICE), which offers telecoms services under the Kolbi brand. Mr Arias explained that, whilst the auction must be kept free and open to any company that meets the minimum conditions, Costa Rica’s anti-trust authority has previously ruled that the procedure for allocating spectrum must take into account the issue of concentration, referring to the disparity in spectrum holdings between Kolbi, and its two competitors Claro and Movistar: Kolbi owns rights to 550MHz of spectrum, whilst its rivals each hold just 130MHz.
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