Polish cellular operators Orange and T-Mobile have begun using the new 800MHz and 2600MHz frequencies that they won at auction in October and which were released by the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) late last month. Orange has announced the launch of 4G LTE services on 20 base stations in 19 cities, and it expects to achieve 95% population coverage by the end of this year. Until now, Orange has had to rely on a network sharing agreement with T-Mobile to provide its customers with 4G access. Orange says that its new LTE network provides peak download rates of 75Mbps, though it plans to introduce carrier aggregation to increase maximum speeds to up to 300Mbps.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile Poland has announced the launch of 800MHz and 2600MHz services at an initial 18 locations on its network, with plans to add a dozen or more new sites each week. T-Mobile has so far been using refarmed spectrum in the 1800MHz band to provide LTE-based services.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, last year’s sale of 4G-capable spectrum ended with bids totalling PLN9.23 billion (USD2.5 billion), with Orange emerging as the highest bidder after offering a total of PLN3.17 billion for two 5MHz blocks of paired frequencies in the 800MHz band and three blocks of 2×5MHz at 2600MHz. Orange was the only one of the main operators without an existing allocation of 4G-ready spectrum. The other winners were T-Mobile (PLN2.14 billion for 800MHz and 2600MHz licences), P4/Play (PLN1.72 billion, 800MHz and 2600MHz), NetNet (PLN2.05 billion, 800MHz only) and Polkomtel (PLN155.8 million, 2600MHz only).