The auction for four third-generation (3G) mobile communications licences offered by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has only managed to attract the interest of the three major local telecommunication players (telcos).
In an earlier Computerworld Singapore report, Craig Ehrlich, managing director of Hong Kong-based Sunday Communications Ltd., the fourth telco that was expected to bid for one of the 3G licences, had expressed that they were "not sure" if they wanted to bid for one of the licences. Thus it is no surprise that Sunday missed yesterday's deadline to submit their initial offer to IDA, rendering them ineligible to bid in the auction.
When contacted, a Sunday spokesperson said that the major reason for their withdrawal from the auction was that they "ran out of time to secure complete project financing". However, she added that "with more time, Sunday could have gone forward" and Sunday still plans to apply for the fourth licence when the opportunity arises.
This leaves local telcos Mobile One Asia Pte. Ltd. (M1), Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) and StarHub Pte. Ltd. in the running for the four 3G licences.
Earlier, Communications and Information Technology Minister Yeo Cheow Tong had said that should these three telcos apply for 3G spectrum slots that do not overlap, there might not even be an auction. IDA said yesterday that they will "review the submitted initial offers and bank guarantees for compliance with the requirements set out in IDA's auction rules", and will announce by April 11 if the auction will proceed.
Each of these 3G licenses carry a reserve price of S$100 million (US$60.6 million), though with more licences than bidders, it seems unlikely that they will cost any more than their reserve price.