This consultation is concerned with the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority's ("GRA") proposals to licence the provision of 4G mobile communications services in Gibraltar. The introduction of 4G mobile is particularly suited to the provision of better mobile data services, faster speeds and improved quality of service, which means that, potentially, broadband delivered over mobile networks could be as good as or, in some circumstances, even better than broadband delivered over the fixed network.
The focus of this consultation is on the process for licensing 4G services in Gibraltar and, in this context, to set out the GRA's plans for the spectrum bands which should be granted access for the provision of 4G services. In this regard, the GRA has considered current spectrum assignments, and has considered what spectrum is available, and how this may best be offered to mobile operators.
The GRA's proposals are that spectrum should be made available in the 800MHz and 2600 MHz bands to support the provision of 4G services. The GRA considers that there is not sufficient spectrum which would allow operators to offer higher data rates of 4G in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands. In order to ensure that such awards can be made, the GRA proposes to licence up to three 4G operators. The GRA also proposes that, in parallel with the 4G awards, spectrum already allocated should be liberalised, so that operators can choose which technologies to use for the services they provide.
In order to provide 4G services in Gibraltar, operators will have notified the GRA as a network provider under Regulation 4(10) of the Communications (Authorisation and Licensing) Regulations 2006 (the "Regulation") and hold the respective Part VI Licence as granted under the Communications Act 2006 (the "Act") for use of the electromagnetic spectrum, or will have to notify under the Regulation prior to obtaining a Part VI licence.
The fees to charge for the use of 4G spectrum have been considered and the current fees for 2G and 3G have been re-evaluated. The proposed fees have been arrived at considering, but not limiting to, the following factors:
- Demand for spectrum,
- Availability of the required bands,
- Interoperability of technology allowed in the band due to sharing constraints or international sharing agreements.
The GRA has built into the award process a methodology that takes account of the possibility of interest from new operators as well as current mobile operators. The GRA proposes to define a set of service and performance criteria, which all applicants will be expected to meet. Should there be more than three valid applications from suitably qualified bidders, the GRA, after examining the market sustainability of more than three operators, could propose to invite sealed bids setting out detailed business plans and implementation schedules with an aim to award spectrum to the best proposals.