O2 Czech Republic activates 5G in Koline; plans to shutter CDMA services from June

5 Apr 2019

As part of its preparations for the launch of commercial 5G mobile services, O2 Czech Republic says it has soft-launched in Koline in the Central Bohemian Region of the Republic some 55km east of Prague. The carrier says the next generation mobile network already covers the whole city and will provide download speeds of up to 1Gbps and Wireless Internet at Home with speeds of up to 250Mbps. O2 spokesperson Jan Pear confirmed: ‘In Koline, our customers can experience the real-world speed of mobile data available in 5G networks today, when real 5G coverage is limited to just a few pilot installations in the world’. To entice users to try the fledgling service, O2 is offering customers a CZK5,000 (USD218.6) discount when signing up. The operator is achieving the higher speeds by combining several frequency bands – LTE-800 FDD, LTE-1800 FDD, LTE-2100 FDD, LTE-2600 FDD – and complementing them with 4×4 MIMO and 256QAM.

In an unrelated development, O2 Czech Republic is reportedly paving the way for the final shutdown of its CDMA 450MHz network, and to that end has stopped selling tariff plans to customers, effective 1 April 2019. It is understood that the shutdown proper will being from 15 June and customers will be notified on the imminent termination of CDMA services.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in July 2017 the Czech Telecommunication Office (Cesky telekomunikacni urad, CTU) concluded a review of CDMA licensing at 450MHz (451.3MHz–455.74MHz/461.3MHz–465.74 MHz) to assess whether it needed to retain a cap on the number of licences issued within this band and whether it should reassess the relevant frequency fees. The move was prompted after O2 Czech Republic said it intended to apply to continue using the frequencies when its CDMA licence expired in February 2018, opting instead to launch LTE-450 services in future.

In its July 2017 decision, the CTU said it would retain a cap on the number of licences issued in the 450MHz band, noting that, at the time, O2 CR still provided broadband services covering more than 90% of the population in this band, even though the number of services provided using the technology was decreasing. Furthermore, the CTU adjusted the cost of the 450MHz licence, and invited O2 CR to apply for a licence extension based on the price range – between CZK127 million and CZK323 million (USD5.6 million to USD14.2 million) – set by the review.

Czech Republic, O2 Czech Republic (incl. CETIN)