Telecom regulators in Europe are accelerating the process to award frequencies for 5G, as operators are expecting to be in a position to launch commercial 5G technology in 2020 in most European markets. Some countries have already awarded initial bands for 5G, while other countries are defining the roadmaps to award this spectrum.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez recently confirmed that the government plans to auction spectrum in the 700 MHz band in the first quarter of next year.
The 700 MHz band is currently utilized for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) services but will be freed up by March 2020. DTT migration is expected to start in January of next year.
The Spanish government aims to raise up to EUR 1.05 billion ($1.14 billion) with the 700 MHz spectrum auction.
This future tender will represent the second auction of 5G-suitable spectrum in Spain. In July 2018, the Spanish government raised a total of EUR 438 million through the sale of 5G frequencies by auctioning spectrum in the 3.6 GHz-3.8 GHz range, which will be key for the launch of commercial 5G services in the country. The government had set a reserve price of EUR 100 million for the 5G spectrum.
In September, French telecoms regulator Arcep confirmed that a tender to award mobile frequencies for the provision of 5G services could take place by mid-2019.
Arcep said that the body will launch a consultation to define the terms of the future 5G action.In July, the French government had said it expects at least one major city to have commercial 5G services by 2020 as one of the key initiatives of the country’s 5G roadmap.
In January this year, Arcep had announced it was planning to issue temporary frequency authorizations to develop 5G pilots in France. The regulator said it will offer spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band (3400 – 3800 MHz) in the metropolitan areas of Lyon, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille, Le Havre, Saint-Étienne, Douai, Montpellier and Grenoble.
Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development recently completed the national 5G spectrum tender, in which the government raised a total of EUR 6.55 billion ($7.56 billion), more than EUR 4 billion over the minimum reserve price of EUR 2.5 billion.
During a total of 14 days of competitive bidding, local carriers Telecom Italia, Wind Tre, Vodafone Italia, Fastweb and Iliad secured spectrum in the 694-790 MHz, 26.5-27.5 GHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz bands.
5G licenses are valid for 19 years, with the exception of the licenses in the 700 MHz band, which will not be released until 2022 and will be valid for 15 and a half years.
Germany’s Federal Networks Agency (BNetzA) has presented the draft terms for the 5G auction planned for early 2019. The body aims to award spectrum in the 2 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands.
The draft terms of the 5G spectrum auction do not require successful bidders to provide nationwide 5G coverage, but require coverage of 98% of the households as well as sufficiently good coverage along federal and state highways.
The guideline requires successful bidders to provide coverage to 98% of household with 100 Mbps speed by the end of 2022 and 300 Mbps by the end of 2025.
The regulator’s advisory board is expected to reach a final decision on the spectrum auction terms during November.
The Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (Ficora) recently completed the auction of 5G spectrum that began on September 26.
Through the tender process, the telecom regulator awarded licenses in the 3410–3800 MHz spectrum band. The licenses granted for the 3.5 GHz band are valid for 15 years starting from January 1, 2019.