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March 16 2000

3G LICENSING ACCELERATES - More news on European awards; New Zealand goes for 15MHz per operator

March 16 2000: Global licensing for IMT-2000 accelerates, with a total of five territories now having announced the award of licenses to operate UMTS/IMT-2000 "third generation" mobile multimedia networks. With the award of as many as 100 3G licences over the next eighteen months, latest information on the status of 3G licensing in Europe as well as a worldwide snapshot can be downloaded FREE from the UMTS Forum web site at

In Spain, four national licenses have been awarded via a beauty contest to the country’s three incumbent GSM operators as well as a new entrant. Telefónica, Airtel, Retevisión and Xfera will launch networks from 2002 with the obligation to offer initial service coverage to all cities of greater than 250,000 population. The Spanish regulator’s decision echoes the UMTS Forum’s own recommendations to conduct the licensing process via beauty contest rather than as an auction process. The Forum has already cautioned in its Reports (see that spectrum auctions can significantly raise the cost to operators of delivering 3G services to the end user, with an associated risk of dampening market demand for mobile multimedia services.

The UK spectrum auction meanwhile continues, with bidders competing for five licenses, one of which is reserved for a new entrant, as in Spain. But it is some of Europe’s smallest territories that have beaten their larger neighbours to the licensing post.

BT-owned Manx Telecom, sole operator on the British crown dependency of the Isle of Man (population 75,000) has announced that it is to launch Europe’s first commercial UMTS service in Europe. If the operator fulfils its commitment to start services from early in 2001, it may beat Japan to become the world’s first 3G service. Following Finland’s first last year, the second country in the world to issue 3G licenses is however Liechtenstein, who has awarded two licenses to offer third generation services to its population of just 32,000 inhabitants. Outside Europe, New Zealand has modified its 3G licensing framework, freeing up an additional 15MHz to offer a total of 2x15MHz paired spectrum to each of four award winners. New Zealand’s own spectrum auction for these four national licenses starts July 10th this year, and the move has been welcomed by the UMTS Forum as it accords with the Forum’s own recommendations on minimum spectrum per operator to support mobile multimedia services.

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by Munich.Net
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