Multi-band 4G spectrum won by Si.Mobil, Telekom Slovenije, Tusmobil

29 Apr 2014

Slovenia’s Agency for Communications Networks & Services (AKOS) yesterday announced the completion of the country’s multi-band mobile spectrum licence auction in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz frequency ranges, raising a total of EUR148.741 million (USD205.938 million) via the allocation of 2×200MHz paired (FDD) spectrum and 1×70MHz unpaired (TDD) spectrum under technology-neutral concessions. Three of Slovenia’s four existing mobile operators, Telekom Slovenije, Si.Mobil and Tusmobil shared the auction spoils after 55 bidding rounds, while fourth network operator T-2 did not enter the contest. Frequencies were issued with 15-year expiry dates except for 2100MHz band spectrum which is valid until September 2021. All available spectrum was allocated except 20MHz in the 1800MHz band and 10MHz in the 2100MHz FDD band. The three winning cellcos bought the following licences:

Si.Mobil (paying a total of EUR63.874 million):

-2×10MHz in the 800MHz band (block with a special obligation coverage, see below);

-2×15MHz in the 900MHz band;

-2×30MHz in the 1800MHz band;

-1×20MHz in the 2100MHz TDD band;

-2×35MHz in the 2600MHz FDD band; and

-1×25MHz in the 2600MHz TDD band.

Telekom Slovenije (EUR64.202 million):

-2×10MHz in the 800MHz band;

-2×15MHz in the 900MHz band;

-2×25MHz in the 1800MHz band;

-2×35MHz in the 2600MHz FDD band; and

-1×25MHz in the 2600MHz TDD band.

Tusmobil (EUR20.665 million):

-2×10MHz in the 800MHz band;

-2×5MHz in the 900MHz band; and

-2×10MHz in the 1800MHz band.

Frequencies issued in the 800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz bands will be available immediately after the official issuance of licences, while new 900MHz and 1800MHz concessions are valid from January 2016.

Si.Mobil’s new block of frequencies in the 800MHz band with a ‘special obligation’ requires the Telekom Austria subsidiary to cover at least 95% of the population of Slovenia in the following three years, and requires the provision of mobile data speeds of at least 10Mbps from the base station to the mobile user terminal outdoors, representing approximately 1Mbps mobile data speed inside buildings. Si.Mobil can meet this obligation by using any of the bands assigned to it. The specific 800MHz block also requires Si.Mobil to cover specifically designated rural settlements with mobile and fixed broadband ‘substitute’ access services. Si.Mobil separately announced after the auction result that it plans to cover 50% of the population with 4G LTE services by the end of this year.

The sub-1GHz spectrum acquired by Si.Mobil, Telekom Slovenia and Tusmobil carries the coverage stipulations of 25% of the population after one year of licensing, 50% of the population after two years and 75% after three.

The remaining above-1GHz spectrum acquired by the trio carries the stipulation of covering 25% of the population after three years and 40% after five (using any licensed frequency band above 1GHz).

AKOS addressed asymmetry in the Slovenian market by reserving two blocks (2×5MHz) in the 800MHz band for operators with less than 15% market share or new entrants (although none came forward in the event), and smaller operator Tusmobil exercised its right to claim this spectrum.

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