CommsUpdate: Japan’s mobile network operators (MNOs) have reacted badly to a proposal to embrace an auction system for allocating radio frequency spectrum and, amid heated arguments over the plan, have reportedly split into two distinct camps. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) is looking to implement a spectrum auction to decide who gets rights to precious spectrum – mindful of the anticipated increased demand for airwaves in the country as operators deploy bandwidth-hungry 5G systems. However, some critics of the plan say that rising bids could ultimately result in higher tariffs for end-users as MNOs look to recoup the outlay of spectrum investment.
Japan is expected to drill down into the figures as it finalises the viability of this approach before drawing up its final policy over the summer. However, whilst the likes of NTT DOCOMO President Motoyuki Ii have reportedly expressed his opinion that Japan ‘should consider introducing an auction system as the basic method for spectrum allocation’, his change of stance was greeted as a ‘bolt out of the blue’ in some quarters as until now, all major MNOs have been less than positive about adopting spectrum auctions that could generate bidding wars and spiralling prices. Countering DOCOMO’s position, Rakuten chairman and president Hiroshi Mikitani objected to the auction proposal, declaring a ‘resounding no’ via Twitter, and in a sideswipe to DOCOMO, said the plan would ‘revive the oligopoly of companies with excessive profits’.
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