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Spectrum Allocation for 3G in Philippines: Implications for Policy Makers and Regulators

  • Communication
  • Design
  • Economics


The commercial potential of wireless applications has brought spectrum policies to the forefront of regulatory arena. The visibility of the telecom sector and the prior experience of 3G licensing in Europe and UK have made several Asian regulators and policy makers wary of using auctions. This paper details out the beauty contest approach adopted by NTC to allocate 3G licenses and the issues that arose as a consequence and highlights the influence of global developments (European and UK 3G auctions) on domestic spectrum allocation processes. The adoption of the beauty contest approach and fixed license fee was justified by NTC on the grounds of ensuring lower prices to consumers but it led to criticism that it was a clear violation of law, as NTC was mandated to promote competition. In this context, auctions would have been a better and more economically efficient process. The case study highlights the importance of incorporating economic principles, design of a transparent evaluation criteria and communication of the same to the bidders prior to the event. Policy makers need to recognize that well designed auctions are transparent mechanism to allocate scarce resource to those entities who value it most. While beauty contests may appear to be simple mechanisms to administer, lack of clarity in design could lead to non transparency and subsequent possibility of litigation and delays. The study also brings out that although an open consultative approach in the early stages may appear to delay the process, in the long run, it leads to more transparent and robust solutions.

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