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The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) successfully concluded the General Spectrum Auction (GSA) for spectrum in the 700 MHz, 900 MHz, and 2.5 GHz bands in Singapore on 4 April 2017. The GSA included four participants: three existing mobile operators (Singtel, StarHub, and M1) and TPG, a new entrant that was issued the fourth mobile network operator license after securing spectrum in the New Entrant Spectrum Auction in December 2016.

A total of 175 MHz of spectrum was made available across the three bands for the provision of high-speed mobile broadband services using technologies such as 4G. IMDA proceeded with the GSA after receiving a request for a total of 225 MHz of spectrum at the reserve prices. The GSA ended with total revenues of approximately S$1.14bn and with all four companies securing spectrum that will enable them to meet the increasing demand for mobile data services.

NERA Managing Director Richard Marsden, a global expert in the design of spectrum auctions, led the NERA team as project director. NERA Senior Consultant Hans-Martin Ihle supported IMDA, from the design of the auction to full software implementation, including software testing and the setup of a closed network over which the auction was run. Mr. Ihle was on the ground to hold the bidder information session and to conduct individual bidder training sessions. Mr. Ihle and NERA Associate Director Soren Sorensen also provided onsite support to IMDA during the auction.

NERA’s advice and support to IMDA ensured that the auction ran smoothly. The Clock-Plus auction format, which is a modern auction format adopted by IMDA for the GSA, was originally designed by NERA to run electricity auctions in the US and was adapted successfully for the GSA in Singapore. It is a hybrid format that borrows features from both the classic Simultaneous Multiple Round Auction (SMRA) and the clock auction. Similar hybrid formats have been adopted in the US, India, and the UK.

NERA is a leading global advisor to government agencies and private-sector companies on the design and implementation of high-stakes auctions. NERA’s work on the IMDA auction adds to a long track record of successful design and implementation of auctions in the telecommunications and energy sectors.