ANCOM poised for 2013 spectrum shake-up

2 Dec 2011

Romanian telecoms regulator ANCOM has initiated a consultation regarding the use of frequencies in the 880MHz-915MHz, 925MHz-960MHz, 1710MHz-1785MHz and 1805MHz-1880MHz spectrum bands. According to ANCOM’s latest study of the wireless market, Romania Cable Systems (RCS&RDS), the fourth-placed mobile operator in terms of subscribers, is currently operating at a competitive disadvantage, as it lacks spectrum in the 900MHz band, as held by Orange Romania, Vodafone Romania and Cosmote. As such, by 31 December 2012 ANCOM has confirmed that Orange and Vodafone are obliged to release a sub-band of 2×5MHz bandwidth from their respective 900MHz frequency allocations, as this will not affect the continuity of the services provided by the two operators. ANCOM has called it ‘the most appropriate remedy to create a level playing field for all the undertakings on the mobile market’. Interested parties are invited to contact the watchdog with comments and suggestions by 9 December 2011.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in May 2011 ANCOM revealed its intention to allocate spectrum in the 790MHz-862MHz and 2500MHz-2690MHz frequency bands in 2012. However, before it can proceed, it stressed that it had to come to a decision regarding those frequencies already in use – particularly the 900MHz/1800MHz UMTS frequencies held by Orange and, which are due to expire at the end of 2011. The first of ANCOM’s two main options involves extending both concessions until 6 April 2014, aligning them to the expiration date of the third 900MHz/1800MHz licence, held by Cosmote. Subsequently, new spectrum in the 800MHz and 2600MHz frequency bands would be distributed in 2013, with all 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency concessions renewed in 2014.

ANCOM’s second option involves extending all three 900MHz/1800MHz licences until 2021, in order to align them with the respective expiry date of the two 2100MHz licences held by Cosmote and RCS&RDS. If this option is selected, usage rights for the 800MHz and 2600MHz frequency bands will be distributed in 2012, with a view to 2013 usage.