Romanian 5G auction could be delayed to 2021

18 Sep 2020

Eduard Lovin, deputy head of Romania’s National Authority for Management & Regulation in Communications (ANCOM), told an industry conference this week that the 5G multi-band mobile spectrum licence auction planned for the fourth quarter of this year could be delayed until 2021. As reported by Bursa.ro, Mr Lovin explained that the government was yet to finalise and publish requisite legislation in the Official Gazette, following which ANCOM must carry out analysis and decide whether adjustments to the auction terms of reference are required. Any adjustments will be subject to a public consultation process taking up to 30 days.

A week earlier, another ANCOM director, Cristin Popa, told a forum that although the regulator ‘is ready to launch the 5G auction’ it would need to examine the government’s rulings on minimum bid prices, whilst separately Parliament must complete the transposition of a related memorandum with the USA, ‘a strategic partnership that we must take into account’, The Diplomat-Bucharest reported. Mr Popa was referring to the Memorandum of Understanding on the development of 5G technology signed by the Romanian and US governments on 20 August 2019, which includes security guidelines on evaluation of 5G technology providers.

Meanwhile, Romania’s communications ministry submitted the local draft law on 5G technology implementation to a public debate in August 2020, including stipulations requiring 5G hardware/software manufacturers to obtain special authorisation from the government. The latest amended version of the draft bill was published at the start of September, although Romanian operators have criticised the document’s potentially ‘retroactive’ effects and argued for further amendments.

In early March 2020 ANCOM announced that it intended to hold the auction of technology-neutral spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 1500MHz, 2600MHz and 3400MHz-3600MHz bands in 4Q20, having already seen the process delayed from its original target of December 2019. Although three Romanian cellcos – Vodafone, DIGI and Orange – launched non-standalone 5G networks in selected cities in 2019 using existing frequencies, additional spectrum allocations are needed to develop higher performance, large-scale 5G services with nationwide coverage.