APEK publishes 4G mobile auction conditions

23 Sep 2013

Slovenia’s Post and Electronic Communications Agency (APEK) has published a draft information memorandum, which specifies the conditions of the upcoming public auction for mobile licences in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz frequency bands, including proposed obligations of network coverage and design – including special coverage obligations in the 800MHz band – plus spectrum caps and reservations. The beginning of the licence tendering procedure is scheduled for the end of this year, ahead of a competitive auction set for March 2014, in which APEK will offer the entirety of the available bands in the 800MHz (digital dividend), 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz ranges as well as all remaining unlicensed spectrum in the 2100MHz range, all under 15-year technology-neutral licences.

Regarding network coverage, for all 900MHz and 800MHz licensees: 40% population coverage is stipulated within three years, and 70% in five years. For 1800MHz and 2600MHz licensees, minimum population coverage targets are 25% in three years and 40% within five. In addition, a block of 800MHz frequencies carries the condition of providing 95% population coverage in three years with mobile broadband services capable of 10Mbps (outdoor coverage) data speeds (while an operator may use any combination of the spectrum bands assigned to it to achieve this target). Simultaneously, the operator assigned the aforementioned 800MHz block must also provide coverage of a specific list of (mainly rural) settlements.

APEK stated that in the interests of a competitive market it has set the following individual spectrum caps: 2×30MHz in the 800MHz/900MHz bands; 2×15MHz in the 900MHz band, 2×30MHz in the 1800MHz band, 2×105MHz in FDD bands 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz, including domestic operators’ pre-existing rights to use 2100MHz FDD spectrum. Moreover, the Agency intends to reserve a maximum of two blocks of 2×5MHz in the 800MHz band, which will be available ‘only to those bidders in an open competition for new entrants or existing operators with more than 15% market share of active mobile users.’

Comments on APEK’s published draft conditions will be accepted up to 4 November 2013, although at this advanced stage of the process the watchdog notes that it is not legally bound to consider contributions in its final conditions. A further memorandum including specific rules for conducting the auction will be published later, alongside a list of specified towns/settlements which must be covered by the holder of the specified 800MHz block licence.