Dutch operators express concerns over 3.5GHz auction

11 Feb 2021

Mobile operators in the Netherlands have sent a letter to Parliament criticising the government’s plan for auctioning 5G 3.5GHz mobile licences in Q1 2022, Dutch press reported. Telecompaper wrote that operators including KPN and T-Mobile warned that the existing two-part auction plan ‘will yield unpredictable and perhaps undesired results’ while financial daily Financieele Dagblad noted that the operators fear that 5G auction costs will rise too high. The auction is open to existing providers and new market entrants.

The 3.5GHz auction plan prepared by the Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy is scheduled for consultation this quarter, and after processing consultation responses the ministry expects to publish the auction scheme before mid-2021 ahead of an application procedure in 2H21 and auction bidding in early 2022, with mobile licences to become valid on 1 September 2022. As per a Ministry letter to parliament in December 2020: ‘[Regarding] current [3.5GHz] users who still have a local licence [with expiry dates up to] 1 September 2026, the Telecom Agency [Agentschap Telecom, AT] will set up a migration plan … Fixing this migration plan is foreseen in the first half of 2021, after which permit holders have until 1 September 2022 to complete the actual migration.’ However, the Ministry indicated that certain existing localised 3.5GHz operations would continue beyond this date, whilst across the northern part of the Netherlands, an initiative remains ongoing to reclaim the 3.5GHz band from its existing usage by the satellite communication interception station of the intelligence services located in Burum.