BNamericas reports that Costa Rica's state-owned telecoms monopoly ICE has signed an agreement with the environment, energy and telecommunications ministry Minaet which paves the way for a much anticipated mobile spectrum auction. Costa Rica is due to be one of the last countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to liberalise its mobile telephony market, as required by the Central America and Dominican Republic free trade agreement with the US (CAFTA-DR). President Oscar Arias is expected to now instruct telecoms regulator Sutel to launch an auction, possibly before the end of the year: Digicel, Cable & Wireless, America Movil, Millicom and Telefonica have all expressed interest in entering the market. Some 100MHz of frequencies in the 850MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands will be up for grabs. The new licences are expected to be awarded by June 2010.
In related news, ICE said it has already sold 2,377 3G connections since the new network went live last week. In addition, some 1,711 TDMA customers had migrated to the new network, retaining their numbers.