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High spectrum prices realised at auction have always been a sore point among bidders, especially in the mobile sector. Such complaints tend to reach a crescendo when a new generation of technology – at present 5G – imposes high investment demands, and they are further compounded by the more expansive political targets for the sector. I argue that, while complaints about excessive prices can be fully justified in some circumstances, competitive auctions, amplified in various ways, should still play a major role in initial spectrum assignments. They should be complemented by secondary trading of licences along with the ability to sub-lease amounts of spectrum to third parties.
While a number of problems have surfaced with using auctions to allocate spectrum, they remain the best competitive option, writes MARTIN CAVE.
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