EETT consults on 3.4GHz-3.8GHz allocation, usage

11 Feb 2013

Greece’s National Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) has launched a public consultation to receive views and comments from the electronic communications sector with respect to its plans for granting technology-neutral wireless frequency licences in the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz band, with a deadline for contributions of 8 March 2013. The EETT previously granted rights to three operators for fixed wireless access (FWA) services in the 3.4GHz-3.6GHz range, which expire in late 2015 and early 2016; TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Databse notes that in 2009 the EETT’s 2006 Regulations on Terms of Use of Radio Frequencies were revised for harmonisation of the use of the 3400MHz-3600MHz band for Broadband Wireless Access (BWA). In the 3.6GHz-3.8GHz band – currently barely utilised in Greece – the regulator says it has committed 60MHz for exclusive provision of electronic communications through rural public networks (under regulation 4070/2012 Article 21), with 140MHz remaining available for BWA services. In the EETT’s consultation paper potential technology platforms are presented for the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz band’s usage, including LTE-Advanced and WiMAX IEEE 802.16e (mobile).

Currently, the paired 3410MHz-3500MHz, 3510MHz-3600MHz band is under licence to three companies, via an original tender in the year 2000 (converted into existing frequency rights under Law 3431/2006). One 2×14MHz block in the range was unsold, and despite being put up for auction again in 2006, the right to usage of this block was revoked in 2011. Of the three existing licensees, Craig Wireless currently holds the paired band 3410MHz-3438MHz, 3510MHz-3538MHz; OTE holds 3441.5MHz-3455.5MHz, 3541.5MHz-3555.5MHz; and Wind Hellas holds 3476.5MHz-3497.5MHz, 3576.5MHz-3597.5MHz. EETT retains the ‘spare’ band 3402MHz-3407MHz, 3502MHz-3507MHz.

Unlike the 3.4GHz-3.6GHz band, the 3.6GHz-3.8GHz range currently has very limited usage in Greece and only a very small part of the band has been granted under licences to use radio frequencies, including two ‘fixed satellite services’ utilising ‘several kHz’, according to the EETT.

The EETT noted that according to the decision of March 2012 (243/2012/EE) of the European Parliament and of the Council of the European Union, 3.4GHz-3.8GHz is one of the critical frequency bands to facilitate achieving the goals of the Digital Agenda for Europe 2020 whereby all citizens should have access to broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps. Greece is lagging slightly behind the European directives on the basis of resolution 243/2012/EE to Member States to make available the appropriate frequencies before 31 December 2012 and implement the process of licensing, ‘depending on the demand of the domestic market’, without prejudice, under conditions that allow consumers easy access to wireless broadband services. The frequency programme is in compliance with the earlier European Commission (EC) decision of May 2008 (2008/411/EC) on the harmonisation of the band 3.4GHz-3.8GHz for terrestrial systems capable of providing electronic communications services. Under the Greek law 4070/2012 (Government Gazette 82/A/10.04.2012), covering ‘Electronic Communications, Transport, Public Works and other provisions’ the EETT assumes management of radio frequency rights for bands including the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz range under consultation.