Radio Spectrum: Uncertainty Over License Renewal

The arrival of new mobile services could be delayed if the uncertainty surrounding the renewal of licenses to mobile operators continues.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A report by the company GSMA, a firm that brings together more than 800 mobile operators in the world, presented a study which analyzes the state of the radio spectrum in Latin America and how the licenses are renewed for use in countries such as Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama.

From the Press Release:

"The GSMA today released findings of a new report, “Licence Renewal in Latin America”, which highlights the climate of uncertainty surrounding the continuity of spectrum licences for many countries in the region. The study finds that such uncertainty can drive mobile operators to reduce their capital expenditure by as much as 67 per cent, which in turn could significantly delay the deployment of new mobile services.

“It is vital that governments and regulators in Latin America communicate a clear process for the renewal of spectrum licences,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA said. “Licence renewal terms for existing spectrum holders should be agreed at least three to four years before a licence expires, in order for operators to ensure ongoing investment in the latest mobile services.”

A number of the original 2G spectrum licences, acquired in the 1990s, are due to expire within the next five years in many Latin American countries; namely Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Uruguay and, most urgently, Colombia. As mobile operators are unable to assume they will have the ability to renew their licence at the end of its term, they may be compelled to progressively reduce investment in their networks. The GSMA’s new report illustrates the extent to which this lack of certainty can impact operators’ investment plans."

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