The Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation has approved a scheme to allow existing GSM 900/1800MHz mobile licence holders to apply for extensions to their concessions, in a decision taking effect 27 September 2012, as a precautionary measure to give operators enough time to adapt networks and services to the outcome of the country’s upcoming multi-band spectrum auction scheduled to start on 31 October. As reported by CommsUpdate, the ministry previously said that the existing 2G mobile licences held by KPN, T-Mobile and Vodafone were not extendable past their official expiry date of 26 February 2013, but the ministry and Dutch spectrum regulator Agentschap Telecom (AT) have been exploring possible measures to alleviate or solve any problems arising from this, including the possibility that newly issued licences could be adjusted to allow a transition period – giving the winners of spectrum time to roll out their networks. Telecompaper reports that the three Dutch GSM network operators will be permitted to ask for an extension during a five-day period, four weeks after the auction, scheduled to end on 7 November. The ministry will assess the extension applications according to criteria thus far yet to be finalised; operators wishing to extend will have to pay a fixed amount per MHz, with prices based on final auction results. The AT intends to auction off blocks of spectrum in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz bands, and to facilitate greater competition the agency is reserving two blocks of spectrum in the 800MHz band and one in the 900MHz band for new entrants. TeleGeography notes that companies being linked with bids for the reserved bandwidth include Swedish pan-regional operator Tele2, which already has an MVNO operation in the country, and local cablecos Ziggo and UPC – both of which secured mobile spectrum last year, with the former going on to launch a 4G mobile network in the 2600MHz band based on Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology for business users in May this year.
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