Nkom launches consultation on 700MHz band analysis; MoTC lowers 900MHz cap

2 Mar 2017

Norway’s National Communications Authority (Nkom) has launched a consultation on a study it commissioned on the socio-economic use of the 700MHz frequency band. Having called on Nexia Management Consulting and Menon Economics for their respective input, the regulator has said these studies are important with regards to its work on allocating spectrum in the aforementioned band.

In November 2015 the authorities determined that 700MHz frequencies would be used for mobile services, once they are made available; currently the spectrum is used for digital terrestrial TV. With this new analysis submitted to public consultation, and a deadline of 19 April 2017 set for submissions, the Nkom has confirmed that its objective is to allocate the frequency band by the end of 2018. It noted that the analysis considers alternative ways of utilising 2×30MHz of 700MHz spectrum, while a central part of the review deals with the emergency sector and armed forces’ need for mobile broadband services. Following the consultation Nkom is expected to submit a recommendation on the use of the 700MHz band to the Ministry of Transport & Communications (MoTC), along with suggestions on elements including allocation format and coverage obligations. Such recommendations are expected to be made before the summer of 2017.

Meanwhile, in related news, earlier this week the MoTC announced it had reduced the cap on holdings in the 900MHz band ahead of an upcoming auction of frequencies, saying it was doing so on competition grounds. According to a ministry press release, the cap has been reduced from its current level of 2×20MHz, to 2×15MHz. As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the Nkom intends to reauction 900MHz frequencies currently assigned to Telenor and Telia in two 20MHz (2×10MHz) blocks at a minimum price of NOK140 million per block. In April 2016 the auction was pushed back from its initially proposed 1 June 2016 start date in order to conduct a further review on the auction rules based on feedback it had received. Specifically, Telia was said to have called for a change to the proposed spectrum cap, requesting it be reduced from 2×20MHz to 2×15MHz, claiming that it expected rival Telenor to acquire frequencies with a view to limiting Telia’s competitiveness. Despite the proposed change to the spectrum cap, the MoTC has said it hopes that the spectrum sale will still take place before summer 2017.