The Federal Network Agency (FNA, also known as Bundesnetzagentur or BNetzA), Germany’s telecoms regulator, has announced that three of the country’s mobile network operators have fulfilled coverage obligations for the 800MHz band in Brandenburg, meaning that they are now able to utilise the frequencies assigned to them as they wish in that federal state. According to a press release issued by the watchdog, the three cellcos – Telekom Deutschland (TD), Vodafone Germany and Telefonica Germany (O2) – have now fulfilled coverage obligations in all 13 of the required states, those being: Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Brandenburg. ‘Just two years after the allocation of frequencies, the coverage requirements in all provinces underserved by broadband are met,’ commented Jochen Homann, president of the FNA, adding: ‘This is a great success and an important step in the broadband strategy of the Federal Government.’
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Germany’s auction 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 was 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 was fulfilled in a federal state, assignment holders were able to make unrestricted use of the 800MHz spectrum there.