Singapore has pulled the plug on its third-generation (3G) mobile licence auction as the sale of four parcels of spectrum attracted just three potential bidders, all incumbent operators. Spectrum rights will be handed to Singapore Telecommunications, MobileOne Asia and Starhub Mobile, which must each pay S$100 million (about HK$429 million) to telecoms regulator the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) by April 23. The flop of the sale comes amid waning international interest in the potential for 3G technology. Early spectrum sales in Europe, notably in Germany and Britain, attracted fierce bidding for the right to offer the services. The IDA said: 'As no more than one initial offer was made in respect of each 3G spectrum right, the rights . . . auction will not proceed. Each spectrum right will be awarded at the reserve price.' Hong Kong's Sunday Communications had been in the running until Monday, but withdrew after failing to line up the needed project financing in time for the sale. Officials from Sunday suggested that they remained interested in extending their business into the city-state, but will have to wait at least a year until the next 3G chance comes around. Under auction rules, the fourth slice of spectrum left unclaimed yesterday must be held for at least 12 months before it can be offered again. If it goes on the block before 2006, it may be offloaded at no less than the S$100 million paid for each of the first three awards. Anthony Wong Sik-kei, director general of Hong Kong's Office of the Telecommunications Authority, said the disposal of 3G licences in Hong Kong would not been affected by the cancellation of the Singapore auction.