The Instituto das Comunicações de Portugal is to issue four licenses on the UMTS mobile technology in the third quarter of 2000. The licences will be granted during the first quarter of 2001, giving the licensed operators enough time to get ready to start operations on 1 January 2002.
There will be fixed limits to the shareholder participation in the bidding companies, to ensure that no candidate has a direct or indirect holding in the share capital of another candidate.
The cover should provide flow-rates of over 128 kbps and the timetable will be as follows:
- 20% of the Portuguese population covered by the end of the first year of the life of the licence;
- 40% of the Portuguese population covered by the end of the third year of the life of the licence; and
- 60% of the Portuguese population covered by the end of the fifth year of the life of the licence.
Bids submitted to ICP that provide roaming for those UMTS licence holders that do not have GSM/DCS will receive preferential appraisal.
This provision of roaming is understood to be the possibility of an operator being able to provide the service to its customers within a given geographic area in which it does not provide cover through its own resources, whether via the UMTS systems or via second generation systems, GSM and DCS.
The roaming service will be provided as from the time the UMTS licence operators start operating, on 1 January 2002, and will terminate on 31 December 2006, or earlier in the event that one of the UMTS operators is declared to be an Entity with Significant Market Power.
UMTS - Universal Mobile Telecommunications System - is a third generation mobile telecommunications system that constitutes the European element of the global family of mobile systems, the International Mobile Telecommunications 2000 (IMT-2000). The 1st generation, as is known, consists of analogue systems in which the only service provided is the voice service. The 2nd generation is characterised by the use of digital technology and, in addition to the voice service, low-rate data services (such as fax and e-mail) are also provided.
The 3rd generation, in turn, will bring the capacity of the mobile networks closer to that of the fixed networks, providing mobile users with access to multimedia services at rates of up to 2 Mbps, in addition to providing voice and data services.
The introduction of UMTS to Portugal will therefore allow some of the limitations of the GSM service to be set aside, particularly as far as capacity and the low transmission rates are concerned. This means that advanced multimedia services can be provided in movement, regardless of location, basically providing mobile access to the Information Society. Videoconferencing, Internet access, online purchases, SMS and paging, as well as fax and voice telephony, are examples of the services that are supported by the UMTS system.