First 5G 3.5GHz test permit in north Netherlands issued, although limited to one indoor location

3 Sep 2019

5G application testing venture 5Groningen has secured the first test permit for 3.5GHz 5G spectrum in northern Netherlands, where the frequency band is currently reserved for military/intelligence usage. Due to the restrictions, 5Groningen has only been granted permission for using the 3.5GHz spectrum in one specific indoor location, the organisation disclosed on its website. The permit was issued to Economic Board Groningen (EBG) by the Dutch frequencies regulator Agentschap Telecom after lobbying by MPs led to 5Groningen being granted an exception by the State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Mona Keijzer and the Minister of Defence, Ank Bijleveld.

TeleGeography notes that allocation of the 3.5GHz band for 5G mobile services is currently not permitted due to the spectrum’s 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) – which prevents commercial utilisation of 3.5GHz spectrum in northern Netherlands (all areas above an imaginary line between Amsterdam and Zwolle). In December 2018 the government proposed to relocate the JSCU satellite station to an as-yet undecided European country, with Mona Keijzer stating the move was essential for 5G development. In June 2019 the State Secretary confirmed the goal of launching a 3.5GHz 5G mobile licence auction by the end of 2021 or early 2022, adding that the government would ‘provide more clarity about the solution’ for the 3.5GHz issues later in 2019.

Netherlands, Agentschap Telecom (AT)