Colombia OKs Countrys First LMDS Auction


Bogota, Colombia -- Colombian President Andrés Pastrana
has signed legislation that will allow LMDS providers to operate in the country for the
first time.

The Ministry of Communications' legal and technical staff,
as well as presidential legal counsel, had been working in recent months on a new set of
regulations governing the wireless-communications sector.

This culminated in the May 24 signing of a presidential
degree permitting local-multipoint-distribution-service operations.

The next step is for the ministry to issue regulatory
measures and to initiate an auction of LMDS licenses. The draft decree establishes a
discretionary period for the agency to do so.

Colombian communications minister Claudia de Francisco has
repeatedly said that the auction process should be opened between June and July.

LMDS is especially attractive to the country's huge pay TV
community, which is now on the verge of a long-awaited legalization. Licensed pay TV
operators may participate in the forthcoming LMDS auction.

Under the proposed legislation -- which champions a
nondiscriminatory, free-market approach -- LMDS license holders must give access to their
frequencies to licensed pay TV operators. Pay TV operators must pay for the access, and
LMDS license holders that deny pay TV operators use of the frequencies without reason
could technically face legal action.

In the auction process, bidders that offer the highest
price and that fulfill the required technical standards will obtain 10-year licenses. LMDS
licenses will be granted on national and local levels.

Plans drawn up by the Ministry of Communications anticipate
granting national permits for major cities and metropolitan areas in Colombia. Local
permits for smaller towns are also envisioned.

LMDS is expected to open up the spectrum to different types
of wireless services in Colombia.

Commenting on the auction, de Francisco said, "LMDS
technologies will strengthen the supply of telecommunications services in our country for
the distribution, transmission and reception of voice, data and video