Putrajaya keeps 700 MHz spectrum, open for bids later

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — The Najib administration has decided not to assign the 700 MHz spectrum to any company.  Not until it studies interest for the spectrum being eyed for Internet usage, despite YTL Comms insisting it bought the spectrum to operate pay-television.

Minister of Information, Communication and Culture Datuk Seri Rais Yatim said today the Cabinet decided that the 700 MHz spectrum could be opened for bidding in the future.

“The issue of 700MHz spectrum was presented at a briefing for the economic council about three weeks ago.

“The economic council chaired by the prime minister was of the opinion that the 700 MHz spectrum not to be assigned until a complete study of the interest of the industry or telecommunication developers,” Rais told reporters here today.

Rais said despite the interest shown by the industry, the government would freeze any award for the 700 MHz spectrum.

“There are at least three to four bidders who may make their offer in the future but for the time being we will follow the advice of the economic council,” said Rais.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had directed the ministry to complete its review before the end of January, and to submit recommendations on how the government should proceed with the award.

The directive was issued following announcement by YTL Comms that the company had a five-year concession to operate in the 700 MHz band for a pay-television operation competing with the dominant Astro network.

The announcement resulted in the government being accused of quietly allowing YTL Comms, a unit of tycoon Tan Sri Francis Yeoh’s YTL property-to-power group to monopolise the telecommunication industry, without fair consideration given to other players in the industry, including Telekom Malaysia, Axiata, Maxis and Digi.

Government regulator, the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) later denied that it had ever given approval to anyone to operate in the 700 MHz band, which can be used for broadcasting or broadband services.



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