Tuesday December 6, 2011

All nine telecoms players given smaller blocks of 4G spectrum

PETALING JAYA: All the nine telecoms players have again been allocated blocks of the 2.6Ghz although in smaller blocks than originally announced.

However, the real winner this time around is newcomer Puncak Semangat Sdn Bhd – a company controlled by billionaire Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary – as it got the biggest bite of 30Mhz of the fourth generation (4G) spectrum.

The other players – the four cellular players and three WiMAX players – got a 20Mhz block each.

What surprised the market was that Asiaspace Sdn Bhd, which has nearly a year now stopped offering WiMAX services, was still a recipient with a 10Mhz block, sources said.

The four cellular players are Celcom Axiata Bhd, DiGi.Com Bhd, Maxis Bhd and U Mobile Sdn Bhd, while the three WiMAX players are Packet One (Network) Sdn Bhd, REDtone International Bhd and YTL Communications Sdn Bhd.

Sources said the award letters were issued to the nine players on Friday and each have until Dec 15 to submit their business plans.

Among the other terms and conditions is that each will have to raise an irrevocable and irrecoverable bank guarantee of RM2.5mil for each 5Mhz of spectrum.

Puncak has to fork out RM15mil; the cellular players and WiMAX players will have to put aside RM10mil each while for Asiaspace, it will be RM5mil. The players will only be assigned the spectrum on Jan 1, 2013.

The award puts to rest the issue of which player should be given the 2.6Ghz spectrum. It has been a long wait since the first time each of the nine were told of the allocation.

It began in October last year when the industry regulator faxed a letter to all the nine players, telling them they would be allocated a 20Mhz block of the next generation spectrum.

The contention then was that the 20Mhz block was too small as the industry norm was 30Mhz to 40Mhz. It is unclear if the new allocation will fit their business plan – B.K. SIDHU

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