The German telecoms regulator, the Federal Network Agency (FNA, also known as Bundesnetzagentur or BNetzA), has announced that three of the country’s mobile network operators have met coverage obligations for the 800MHz band in Schleswig-Holstein and are all now able to utilise the frequencies assigned to them as they wish in the federal state. According to a press release issued by the watchdog, by the end of 2011 the three cellcos in question – Telekom Deutschland (TD), Vodafone Germany and Telefonica Germany (O2) – fulfilled coverage obligations in seven of 13 required states, those being Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein.
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. Three of the country’s 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 Long Term Evolution [LTE] services) in other areas using 800MHz spectrum. Rollout is to be carried out in stages based on the number of inhabitants, beginning with municipalities with 5,000 people or less.