4G licence auction plan under public consultation

12 Jun 2013

The Telecommunications Office of the Slovak Republic (TU SR) has issued a public consultation on the upcoming auction procedure and terms for 4G (technology-neutral) mobile licences in the frequency bands 800MHz (790MHz-862MHz), 1800MHz (1710MHz-1785MHz / 1805MHz-1880MHz) and 2600MHz (2500MHz-2690MHz). The document is available on the regulator’s website for comment (http://www.teleoff.gov.sk/index.php?ID=3062) and submissions can be made up to 10 July 2013. The TU SR will subsequently publish the results of the consultation including an evaluation of the comments online.

In an excerpt from the consultation document, the TU SR – based on findings of studies conducted abroad, for example, the 800MHz mobile broadband coverage obligation study conducted by Real Wireless for the UK’s regulator Ofcom – proposes that the 800MHz band is awarded in complete blocks of 10MHz duplex, as the UK study results showed that this will significantly increase high speed data coverage when compared with the allocation of 800MHz band frequencies in 5MHz duplex units.

The document continues that, regarding the allocation of 1800MHz frequencies, the TU SR is also interested in public opinion on the possibility of a new mobile market entrant. The regulator has adopted the stance that applying an individual spectrum cap of 2×15.2MHz in the 1800MHz band gives a ‘balanced competitive environment’ for all licensees while offering the opportunity for a prospective new mobile operator. The authority adds that it also ‘set the terms of the tender, so as not to unduly favour any of the parties who will be involved in the selection process.’ TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that all three existing domestic cellcos already hold the maximum 1800MHz allocation – therefore leaving the 1800MHz portion of the auction for a newcomer. There is a total of 38.8MHz (2×19.4MHz) of spare 1800MHz frequencies potentially available, but the TU SR has stated that it will offer a new entrant 2×15.2MHz to match the existing operators, in the interests of a fair market.

The 2600MHz frequency band (2500MHz-2570MHz paired with 2620MHz-2690MHz [FDD] plus 2570MHz-2620MHz [TDD]) is currently used for TV retransmission via MMDS under individual authorisations expiring on 31 December 2013. After this date the TU SR states that the entire band will be available for broadband access networks on a technology-neutral basis.

The TU SR’s document says that licence winners will be obliged to meet the following individual coverage targets with their own networks:

800MHz: 50% of the population by 31 December 2018;

1800MHz (if holding at least blocks B1 and/or B7): 25% population by 31 December 2020;

2600MHz: 25% population by 31 December 2018.

4G licensees will be obliged to provide wholesale access to mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).

Licences will expire on 30 June 2028.

Regarding a timetable, after completing a competitive tender for a consultancy to oversee the electronic auction, it was reported in February that the TU SR was aiming to complete the auction process by the end of 2013.