CAP calls for withdrawal of 700MHz spectrum awards

28 Jun 2018 / 23:19 H.

GEORGE TOWN: The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) has called for the immediate withdrawal of the 700MHz spectrum awards to mobile phone operators and for the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to disclose the criteria used to allocate the bands and set the fees.
Its president, SM Mohamed Idris, said the association was extremely concerned regarding the potential revenue loss of billions of ringgit in the award of spectrum licences to cellular firms in the past.
This was due to the lack of transparency in the award process as well as the low cost of securing the frequency bands, he said.
"In 2015, India raised RM638 billion from the 900MHz and other bands valid for 20 years, which translates to RM31.9 billion per year. On the other hand, this year Malaysia made RM2.755 billion, including annual maintenance, from the 700MHz band valid for 16 years.
"This is equivalent to RM0.17 billion per year. This shows huge differences in cost irrespective of the countries' size and other factors," he told a press conference here today.
The process of withdrawing the spectrum from the operators and reissuing it for a different technology is known as refarming, whereby it frees up the spectrum which is inefficiently used with outdated technology and utilises it for services with higher demand and less spectrum usage.
Mohamed Idris said CAP took note of Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo's announcements that the country's Internet speed would be improved following consumer complaints of the broadband quality.
"On June 20, Gobind announced that prices of broadband packages are expected to drop by at least 25% later this year. We hope that he will give as much attention to the way spectrum is awarded by (the MCMC)," he said.
CAP also wants the ministry to ensure the spectrum assignments are transparent and that the fees paid bring much revenue to the government while end-users receive high-quality service.
Meanwhile, CAP Research Officer Joseph Raj explained that spectrum was a prized commodity, especially the 700MHz band, as the cost to roll out services at this frequency was much lower than at higher frequencies.
"According to the MCMC's Spectrum Plan 2017, a successful applicant is chosen based on who bids higher, while the application must be based on the procedure set out by the MCMC. It states that the assessment is not limited to experience, technical and commercial proposals, but may also include assessment of price proposal depending on the type of tender," he added. — Bernama

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