CNMC to increase radio spectrum cap

15 Dec 2015

Spanish telecoms regulator the Comision Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC) has approved proposals under which the amount of radio spectrum that companies can hold will be increased. Announcing the development in a press release, the watchdog confirmed that as per INF/DTSA/184/15/LIMITES ESPECTRO the spectrum cap expansion would be conditional on operators providing wholesale access to third parties.

As per previous regulations introduced in 2011 Spanish cellcos had been barred from holding more than 185MHz of frequencies across all bands, with a 135MHz limit in high frequency bands (1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz) and 2×25MHz in lower bands (sub 1GHz). Under the revised legislation, in the higher bands a new cap of 210MHz will apply – a figure the CNMC noted represented a third of all spectrum available in these bands – on the basis that the frequency holder offers wholesale access with ‘reasonable conditions’. No change to the cap for the lower bands has been made, however.

In announcing the new spectrum regime the CNMC noted that the merger of Vodafone Spain and ONO, along with the tie-up of Orange Espana and Jazztel, had seen both combined entities forced to return some of their frequencies to the Ministerio de Industria, Energia y Turismo (Minetur). According to the regulator’s publication, meanwhile, Vodafone currently has the largest spectrum holdings of all operators, 175MHz, while Orange Espana and Movistar Espana have 165MHz and 164.6MHz, respectively. Yoigo, the market’s smallest cellco by subscribers, also has the smallest spectrum allocations at just 64.6MHz, a fact which the CNMC recognised means that the cost of deployment for the cellco is higher, as it has had to strike a national roaming agreement with Movistar.