Cullen International’s latest research is focused on the progress in the Americas in both allocating and assigning licenses in a range of spectrum bands commonly used for IMT services.
In 2021, several spectrum awards in the Americas that were postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic were included in regulators’ agendas. Forthcoming new spectrum awards in the region are focused on the mid bands, especially in the 3.5 GHz band.
In 1H 2021, the USA, Canada and Chile assigned spectrum for mobile services.
The Canadian regulator, ISED, awarded spectrum in the 3.5 GHz in July 2021. ISED foresaw a transition process for existing licensees to choose the type of services they will deploy (i.e. mobile 5G or fixed wireless service) in a certain amount of spectrum (flexible use spectrum licences). Current licensees can continue serving their existing customers while laying the groundwork for new 5G services.
The US has assigned most spectrum in the mid and millimetre wave bands (3.5 GHz, 3.7 GHz and the upper 37, 39 and 47 GHz bands), and is about to assign 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3.45–3.55 GHz band. Upfront payment is due in September 2021.
Brazil is expected to hold an auction in 2H 2021. Anatel will assign spectrum in the 700 MHz, 2.3 GHz, 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz spectrum bands. The auction rules established a novel licensing approach, with mobile operators able to convert part of the upfront spectrum fees into additional coverage obligations.
The Mexican regulator, IFT, approved the final rules to auction unused blocks of spectrum in the SMR 800 MHz, AWS, 1900 MHz (PCS) and 2.6 GHz bands. The award is expected to take place in 2H 2021.
Other countries that are expected to hold auctions in 2021 include Colombia (3.5 GHz band), Ecuador (700 MHz and 3.5 GHz bands) and Peru (AWS and 2.3 GHz bands).
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