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Dutch government confirms 5G auction plans

12 Jun 2019

The Netherlands’ government yesterday published its long-delayed mobile policy white paper (Nota Mobiele Communicatie), confirming plans for a 700MHz/1400MHz/2100MHz 5G spectrum licence auction ‘at the end of 2019/beginning of 2020’, followed by a 3.5GHz 5G auction scheduled for ‘end of 2021/beginning of 2022’. State Secretary for Economic Affairs Mona Keijzer presented the policy, which ensures that at least three network operators will be issued 5G licences carrying strict geographical coverage requirements and minimum mobile data speed stipulations. To ensure sufficient competition, an individual bidder may receive a maximum of 40% of total available frequencies, taking into account current licensed spectrum held by mobile incumbents KPN, VodafoneZiggo and the recently merged T-Mobile/Tele2 Netherlands.

The policy says that mobile coverage must reach ‘98% of the surface area of every Dutch municipality’. Within this requirement, standards have been set for minimum mobile data speed ‘on the outer edges of a mobile network’: minimum requirements for these ‘worst points’ will be set at 8Mbps by 2022 and 10Mbps in 2026. The government says that these requirements will mean an average mobile internet speed of above 100Mbps, and maximum speed close to a network antenna of above 2Gbps.

Regarding the 3.5GHz auction plan, the State Secretary noted that this portion will leave room for permits for ‘local, company-specific applications’ alongside the major national mobile providers. Uncertainty still surrounds the 3.5GHz band, however, due to its current usage by the satellite traffic interception station in Burum (Friesland province) – operated by the Joint Sigint Cyber Unit (JSCU) of the General Intelligence & Security Service (AIVD) and Dutch Military Intelligence & Security Service (MIVD) – preventing reallocation of 3.5GHz frequencies in northern Netherlands (all areas above an imaginary line between Amsterdam and Zwolle). The government’s latest announcement says that it will ‘provide more clarity about the solution’ for the 3.5GHz issue later this year, prior to a consultation on the 700MHz/1400MHz/2100MHz auction scheme. TeleGeography notes that proposals have been floated to relocate the Dutch JSCU satellite facility to another European country. A related security task force report is due to be delivered to the government soon.

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