Italy launched on Thursday the auction for WiMAX licenses, a super-fast wireless broadband that can reach areas not connected by a traditional broadband network, the Communications Ministry said in a statement.
The Ministry said it would sell three licenses for available frequencies within the 3.4-3.6Ghz spectrum. Each license will cover one or more Italian regions.
The licenses will last for 15 years, can be renewed and cannot by sold on to a third party without government authorization.
Consumer association Adiconsum expressed serious concerns about the selling procedure, as it said some licenses risked going to operators that already use a different wireless technology, the UMTS technology.
“These operators do not have any interest to foster the WiMAX technology,” said Adiconsum chairman Paolo Landi.
The Italian government had initially planned to sell the WiMAX licenses, but it repeatedly postponed the project.
Internet provider Tiscali and broadband operator Fastweb expressed interest when the government first announced its plans on WiMAX. Analysts do not rule out a possible interest by domestic telecoms giant Telecom Italia.
Analysts said earlier this year they expected the sale of the Italian licenses to generate between 100 million euros ($142.1 million) and 200 million euros for the Italian state, far below the billions gained from the sale of 3G mobile phone licenses at the peak of the high-tech boom, analysts said.
WiMAX, short for wireless interoperability for microwave access, is a medium-range sibling of the popular Wi-Fi technology. It can be beamed over kilometers rather than meters.
Like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, WiMAX uses radio frequency rather than conventional wires to beam the Internet and data to laptops and mobile gadgets but its main attraction lies in the low number of base stations required to create a network.
|copyright © 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.|