New 4G auctions on the way in Afghanistan

New 4G auctions on the way in Afghanistan

Could we be getting closer to full-scale 4G rollout in Afghanistan? Apparently, additional spectrum has become available in the country in the 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz bands for 4G services – and will be auctioned soon.

According to TeleGeography's CommsUpdate, the Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA) has published an Invitation To Apply (ITA) to participate in the auction of three 2×5MHz lots in the 1800MHz range, two 2×5MHz lots in the 2100MHz range and three 2×10MHz blocks in the 2600MHz range.

Winners will not be able to control more than 2×10MHz from the 1800MHz and 2100MHz ranges, or 2×20MHz across all of the 1800, 2100 and 2600 ranges. They can then consolidate their holdings into contiguous blocks with, it is promised, limited intervention from ATRA. There will also be coverage obligations: 4G data services need to reach five of the largest cities in Afghanistan within 18 months and the next 13 largest cities within two years.

In addition, winners need to be able to offer at least five operational base stations in each of the remaining provinces within one year, and ten base stations in each within two years. Some measure of infrastructure sharing – or at least the potential for sharing – is also required as part of the 15-year allocations.

There has apparently been no comment on the reserve prices yet ($17.2 million for each 1800MHz lot, $12.0 million per 2100MHz lot and $11.0 million for each 2600MHz lot), though we’ll no doubt know how reasonable the pricing has been by 23 June when applications have to be in.