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France bucks 3G trend
Posted: 26-Aug-2000 [Source: FT]

[No 3G spectrum auction in France. Instead we will see a "beauty contest" with well defined rules for the judging.]

Paris -- "France, unlike the UK and Germany, has decided against auctioning its quota of third-generation mobile phone licences.

"But scrutiny of the rules for the so-called 3G "beauty contest", would turn any reader into a free-market zealot.

"Lucky winners of the four FFr32.5bn (E5bn, US$4.5bn) licences - a bargain compared with the prices paid by victors in the UK and Germany - are to be selected using a marking system so elaborate it might have been dreamt up by those responsible for the rules of cricket.

"Candidates can score a maximum of 500 points and will be marked according to no fewer than 14 criteria.

"These range from the "coherence and credibility" of their project, worth up to 100 points, to actions aimed at preserving the environment (marks out of 15).

"Authors of the rule-book, nothing if not thorough, have even detailed what would happen in the event of a tie: scores would be compared across what are deemed the four most important categories, with the maximum mark being 325.

"Inspiration seems to have dried up when considering what to do in the admittedly unlikely event of two or more candidates remaining neck-and-neck after all that, however.

"If two or more candidates are still level, the choice will be made by drawing lots," the rules state.

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