Dutch multi-band auction will start 29 June

27 May 2020

The Netherlands’ radio frequency spectrum agency Agentschap Telecom (AT), under the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy, announced yesterday that the country’s multi-band mobile auction including 5G-suitable spectrum will start on 29 June 2020, in keeping with an EU deadline to allocate 700MHz mobile broadband frequencies by end-June. On offer is 2×30MHz in the 700MHz band (previously allocated mainly for digital TV), 1×40MHz in the 1400MHz ‘L-band’ (for ‘supplemental downlink’, useable only in conjunction with other frequencies) and 2×60MHz in the 2100MHz band (in existing mobile use, originally issued as 3G UMTS spectrum). AT stated that new licences are expected to be issued ‘in the summer period’ (while the new 2100MHz licences are effective from January 2021). All licences will run until 2040.

Incumbent cellcos KPN, VodafoneZiggo and T-Mobile have all indicated that their licence bidding applications have been accepted. A 40% individual spectrum cap applies across the total available frequencies, to ensure at least three providers of high speed mobile communications hold adequate spectrum resources to meet future demands, and to safeguard competitive pricing and quality for consumers and businesses.

A day before AT’s announcement, the Court of The Hague issued an interlocutory judgement rejecting a lawsuit from the Stop5GNL Foundation campaign group aimed at blocking 5G network rollout and spectrum auctioning. As reported by DutchNews.nl, the ruling of 25 May (see link below) found no reason to stop 5G deployment while concluding that the State of the Netherlands – represented by the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy – was not acting unlawfully by auctioning 5G frequencies. Stop5GNL had argued that existing research into potential health effects of 5G was insufficient. In January a report from public health institute RIVM and AT concluded that 5G network radiation was within European limits, agreeing with the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, the organisation determining exposure limits for electromagnetic fields used by devices such as mobile phones. AT has committed to ongoing monitoring of the situation, promising state intervention if future insights showed any health risks.

Dutch police are meanwhile investigating a spate of arson attacks on mobile masts around the country, the 28th incident of which was reported in Limburg on 24 May.