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 Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, meaning that they are now able to utilise the frequencies assigned to them as they wish in the two federal states. According to a press release issued by the watchdog, the three cellcos in question – Telekom Deutschland (TD), Vodafone Germany and Telefonica Germany (O2) – have now fulfilled coverage obligations in eleven of the 13 required states, those being: Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. Coverage obligations in the two remaining underserved states, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, are close to being fulfilled, stated the FNA’s president, Jochen Homann.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Germany’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. Three of the country’s mobile players each secured two paired 5MHz blocks in the 800MHz band, with Telefonica Germany paying the highest amount – EUR1.212 billion (USD1.6 billion) for the two blocks – followed by Vodafone (EUR1.21 billion) and TD (EUR1.15 billion). The 800MHz frequencies included a phased rollout obligation to cover areas underserved with broadband services, also known as ‘white spots’, with operators required to cover 90% of these regions 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, and followed by larger towns in the subsequent stages. When the coverage obligation has been fulfilled in a federal state, assignment holders can make unrestricted use of the 800MHz spectrum there.