The Singaporean regulator revealed plans to auction 4G spectrum this year, stating that this will “allow mobile operators to provide more innovative services with data transfer rates that would potentially be several times faster than existing 3G data plans”.
The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) said that it will sell-off 270MHz of spectrum in the middle of 2013, with 150MHz in the 1800MHz band and 120MHz in the 2.5GHz band.
The total reserve price is SGD360 million ($294 million).
Singapore’s mobile operators have already begun deploying LTE services using their existing frequency allocations.
Leong Keng Thai, deputy chief executive and director general of telecoms and post at IDA, said that “while commercial LTE services are already available, its use is still at a nascent stage”.
According to Wireless Intelligence figures, at the end of December 2012 SingTel led the way for 4G connections ahead of M1 and StarHub, although all were below the 100,000 mark.
The IDA said that the 2.5GHz frequencies can be used from 1 July 2015 and the 1800MHz frequencies from 1 April 2017, when existing spectrum rights end.
Despite the delay before use, it said that it is holding the auction now “to give operators more certainty in their 4G investment”.
In most cases, bidders will be required to provide nationwide street level coverage within 12 months, and coverage for MRT underground stations/lines and road tunnels within 36 months.
IDA is setting aside 40MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum for a new entrant, but this will be included with the main lots if there is no interest from an outside player.
The regulator is putting an overall spectrum cap in place at 2x55MHz, with a limit of 1800MHz holdings at 2x30MHz.