Tele2 keen to bid for 800MHz LTE licence

19 Sep 2011

Mobile Europe reports that Tele2’s Dutch unit has expressed an interest in bidding for 800MHz spectrum, suitable for Long Term Evolution (LTE) services, throwing down the gauntlet to the country’s incumbent mobile network operators. Tele2’s Market Area Director for Western Europe, Gunther Vogelpoel, is quoted as saying that the Netherlands’ regulatory climate is deemed favourable for Tele2 NL to transform itself from an MVNO into a full-blown network operator. As such, the altnet could capitalise on its position in the fixed line segment to offer a fully integrated service to end users.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database writes that the Dutch ministry of economy is looking to reserve 2×10MHz of spectrum (or one-third of new available spectrum) in the 800MHz band for new market entrants. The government plans to auction off a number of blocks of spectrum next year, including frequencies in the 800MHz band suitable for 4G mobile data services. Parliament has reportedly gone one step further, saying it would also like to reserve 2×5MHz for new entrants in the 900MHz band. Mr Vogelpoel notes however, that with a reserve price of EUR35 million (USD48 million) for 2×5MHz, and a rollout obligation of 40% coverage within five years, Tele2 will need to closely assess the economic case for bidding in the auction. That said, the company is aware that if it opts not to tender for one of the 17-year licences on offer, its ‘window of opportunity’ would be gone.

The state’s move to ring fence a significant portion of the spectrum on offer is welcomed by the likes of Tele2 and local cable broadband operators – Liberty Global Inc’s UPC Nederland unit, and Ziggo – but has incurred the wrath of incumbent KPN which is reportedly considering a legal challenge to thwart the ministry’s plan.

Netherlands, Tele2 (a brand of T-Mobile Netherlands)