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Communications Commission publishes Consultation on Licensing of 4G Mobile Services

Published On:Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Communications Commission has published for consultation its proposals on the licensing of 4G mobile communications services. While 2G mobile introduced customers to texts and emails from their phones, and 3G supported smartphones and data, 4G is ideally suited for high-bandwidth data services, such as live TV or streaming high quality video. The introduction of 4G mobile technologies should result in better mobile data services, faster speeds and improved quality of service. Broadband delivered over 4G mobile networks could be as good as or, in some circumstances, even better than broadband delivered over the fixed network.

An operator seeking to offer 4G mobile needs to have a Telecommunications Act licence issued in the Isle of Man, which allows it to offer mobile services on the Island, and a Wireless Telegraphy Act licence issued by Ofcom in the UK, which allows it to use specified spectrum bands. The consultation sets out the process proposed by the Commission for awarding 4G licences, and explains the reasoning behind the Commission’s proposals.

The Commission has opened its proposals for consultation for one month, after which it will consider responses and invite expressions of interest from potential operators. The Commission’s aim has been to design a process which is efficient and timely, with a view to awarding licences as soon as possible so that new 4G services can be introduced. Responses should be received by 1 August 2013. Responses in writing should be marked ‘4G Consultation’ and either posted to the Communications Commission at 2nd Floor, St Andrew’s House, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 2PX; or emailed to [email protected]

Chairman of the Commission, Hon. Juan Watterson MHK said:

“The Isle of Man is a dynamic economy with first class telecommunications networks. We hope that early delivery of 4G to the Island will add to our offering and make us an even more attractive prospect for a wide variety of businesses. For retail customers, the prospect of live streaming news and video will mean a step change in digital inclusion and add to the Island’s already advanced quality of life.”

Notes for Editors

  1. The Communications Commission is the Statutory Board that regulates the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors on the Island.
  2. Ofcom is the UK regulator responsible for the licensing of radio spectrum in the Island. The Commission works closely with Ofcom to ensure that Isle of Man Government policies are taken into account in licensing decisions.
  3. The term 4G is generally used to refer to mobile broadband services delivered using the next generation of mobile broadband technologies, including Long Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMAX.
  4. 4G is ideally suited for high-bandwidth data services, such as live TV or streaming high quality video. According to Ofcom, for a typical user, download speeds of initial 4G networks are likely to be at least 5-7 times faster than existing 3G networks, and as the networks develop, significantly higher speeds are expected.
  5. The Commission’s proposals are that spectrum should be made available in the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2.6GHz bands to support the provision of 4G services.
  6. There is sufficient spectrum for the Commission to licence up to three 4G operators.
  7. The Commission is proposing that the 4G licence award process will comprise four stages, i.e. an Application Stage, Qualification Stage, Sealed Bid Stage and Award Stage. If three or fewer qualified applications are received, the Sealed Bid Stage will not be required and, in this instance, the process will proceed directly to the Awards Stage.
  8. The Commission is proposing that successful applicants will have the following conditions included in their Telecommunications Act licence to provide 4G services:
    1. Launch date: 4G operators will be obliged to launch commercial services within nine months of licence award;
    2. Coverage at launch: 4G operators will be obliged to provide at least 33% population coverage at launch;
    3. Population coverage to be achieved: 4G operators will be obliged to provide at least 95% population coverage within two years of service launch;
    4. Minimum mobile broadband data speed provided: 4G operators will be obliged to offer minimum download speeds of at least 5 Mbps over their networks.
  9. The Consultation Documents can be viewed online at http://www.gov.im/cc/ConsultationDetail.gov?id=386