The German telecoms regulator, the Federal Network Agency (FNA, also known as Bundesnetzagentur or BNetzA), has announced that the country’s mobile network operators have met coverage obligations in the 800MHz band in North-Rhine Westphalia and Saarland. According to a press release issued by the watchdog, the three cellcos in question – Telekom Deutschland (TD), Vodafone Germany and Telefonica Germany (O2) – are all now able to utilise the frequencies assigned to them as they wish in the two federal states.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the country’s sale of spectrum in the 800MHz band concluded in May 2010, as part of the regulator’s wider sale of frequencies in a number of bands. As expected, the 800MHz frequencies proved the main attraction in the sale process, generating the majority of funds; EUR3.576 billion (USD4.49 billion) of the EUR4.38 billion generated by the auction resulted from the sale of the 800MHz spectrum. The country’s three largest mobile players each secured two paired 5MHz blocks in the 800MHz band, with Telefonica O2 paying the highest amount – EUR1.212 billion for the two blocks – followed by Vodafone (EUR1.21 billion) and TD (EUR1.15 billion). The 800MHz frequencies included a rollout obligation to cover areas underserved with broadband services, also known as ‘white spots’, with operators required to cover 90% of these areas before they could roll out mobile broadband (including 4G LTE services) in other areas using 800MHz spectrum.
Commenting on the progress made by the operator’s, Matthias Kurth, the FNA’s president, noted: ‘I’m very happy that the coverage requirements have already been fulfilled in two states in such a short space of time. Following the auction, the companies quickly started broadband expansion, ensuring rapid progress. I expect the frequencies to continue to be used efficiently now, leading to further improvement in broadband coverage.’