Licensing Qualification Criteria: Selected Country Examples

Qualification criteria are minimum requirements that all applicants must meet in order to be eligible to compete for the award of licence during the selection stage.  As we have discussed elsewhere in this Module, the qualification stage precedes the selection stage, and is sometimes combined with a pre-qualification stage.

Regulators around the world have adopted diverse sets of qualification criteria.  Below, we describe in summary form qualification criteria that have recently been adopted by regulators in various licensing processes.  As with most of the country examples we provide in this Module, it is important to remember that each set of criteria was adopted in response to local conditions and the particular goals of each licensing process.  Thus, the licensing criteria adopted in a particular country may not be suitable for all licensing processes.

Some of the considerations relevant to selecting appropriate qualification criteria include:  the type of service being licensed; whether the authorization will include monopoly rights or other forms of exclusivity; whether the licensing process includes a pre-qualification phase; and the type of selection mechanism applied in the licensing process.

Selected country examples

Singapore, auction of Public Cellular Mobile Telecommunications Services spectrum rights, 2008: In order to participate in the auction of Public Cellular Mobile Telecommunications Services (PCMTS) spectrum rights, interested parties were required to submit an Application Form, a First Initial Offer Document, and a bank guarantee.  Upon submission of these materials, the Info-Communications Development Authority (IDA) is to determine whether the person should be registered as a Bidder and thus eligible to take part in the auction.  IDA) stipulated in the Auction Rules that it may take into account the following, among other things, in determining whether a person should be registered as a Bidder:

(a)                whether the person has demonstrated that it has the technical and financial capability to acquire a PCMTS spectrum right to operate a public cellular mobile telecommunications network;

(b)               whether the person is an Associated Bidder in relation to any other person(s) that have submitted an Application Form;

(c)                whether it would be in the public interest for such person to be granted a PCMTS spectrum right; and

(d)               all and any other facts, circumstances, or matters considered relevant, including, but not limited to, the financial or personal probity and standing of the applicant or any company in the same corporate group as the applicant or any director or shareholder of the applicant or of any such company.

Canada, auction of spectrum licences for Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) and other spectrum in the 2GHz range (2007-2008):  Applicants were required to be eligible to become “radiocommunications carriers” and to be able to comply on an ongoing basis with the eligibility criteria for radiocommunications carriers under the Canadian Radiocommunications Regulations.  Section 10(2) of the Radiocommunications Regulations provides that to be eligible to be issued radio licences as radiocommunications carrier, a person must be Canadian owned and controlled.

Estonia, 3G tender process, 2004: The Estonian regulator adopted three qualification requirements for its 3G tender process in 2004.  Participants were required:  to have submitted an application for participation, along with all necessary documentation; not to be an operator to whom a technical authorisation of 3G mobile telephone network had previously been given pursuant to an earlier proceeding;  and to have transferred the deposit sum in the appropriate account of the Ministry of Finance by the deadline for such deposit.

Switzerland, GSM licence tender process, 2003:  OFCOM, the Swiss regulator, included only one qualification criterion in the 2003 licensing process for licences to provide telecommunications services based on the GSM standard.  This criterion was that sufficient financing for the participant’s proposed project had been secured for the term of the licence, based on commercial and technical planning.  The tender document stipulated that OFCOM would consider that a participant had fulfilled this criterion if:  the project was based on a consistent and realistic business plan;  a consistent and realistic investment and financing plan exists for the project;  and the financial means necessary for the realization of the project are available or can be made available and this can be proven.

Nepal, Rural Telecommunications Services tender process, 2003: Participants in the 2003 Nepalese Rural Telecommunications Services (“RTS”) licensing process were required to meet four requirements in order to become a “Qualified Applicant”, and therefore eligible to compete for the award of licence during the selection stage. 

First, the participant’s application package for the RTS licence had to be complete and prepared in accordance with the terms of the Request for Applications (“RFA”) for the Issuance of an RTS Licence. 

Second, the participant must have satisfied all eligibility requirements included in the RFA, including, inter alia, requirements relating to:  the purchase of a copy of the RFA;  the provision of all required information;  company registration;  Nepalese participation;  financing capacity;  operational experience;  and field proven equipment.  The RFA includes specific details about these eligibility requirements and how participants were to demonstrate that these requirements had been met.

Third, the information contained in the participant’s application for licence must have demonstrated that the applicant met or was capable of meeting the RTS licence requirements related to service quality and availability and network roll-out requirements, as specified in the RFA. 

Finally, the participant must not have been disqualified for any other reason, including, inter alia, reasons relating to the failure to submit the application for the licence in a timely fashion;  failure to submit a complete application;  failure to provide the required bid security amount for the licence;  and failure to comply with any of the procedures outlined in the RFA.

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