AT confirms five in frame for Dutch mobile spectrum auction

7 Sep 2012

The Netherlands’ spectrum regulator Agentschap Telecom (AT) has announced that the multi-band auction of mobile spectrum for both voice and data services will begin on 31 October. The agency says that five – as yet unnamed – companies have thrown their hat into the ring to bid for the licences on offer, which are valid for 17 years. AT’s auction will take place over the internet and its duration will depend on the course of the bidding process, the watchdog said. The AT intends to auction off blocks of spectrum in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz bands. To facilitate greater competition, the agency is reserving two authorisations for new market entrants. More information about the auction can be found at: www.agentschaptelecom.nl/onderwerpen/mobiele-communicatie/Multibandveiling.

According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in January this year the Dutch telecoms regulator OPTA confirmed it was hoping to auction new mobile frequencies in October, in the process reserving three spectrum blocks for newcomers. The market is currently dominated by three incumbent network operators – KPN Mobile The Netherlands, Vodafone Netherlands and Deutsche Telekom’s local T-Mobile unit. However, the government is looking to increase competition, and to that end is reserving two blocks of spectrum in the 800MHz band and one in the 900MHz band for new entrants. The 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.

Alongside the lower bandwidth auctions, the OPTA said it was looking to auction off parts of the 2.1GHz and 2.6GHz bands. Groups wishing to participate in the upcoming October auction were expected to register their desire to participate by mid-April. Further, the Economic Ministry has since confirmed that the existing licences for GSM-900 and GSM-1800 2G mobile services are set to expire on 26 February 2013 and are not extendable at this date. The Ministry and AT have been exploring possible measures to alleviate or solve any problems arising from this, including the possibility that new permits could be adjusted to allow a transition period – giving the winners of spectrum time to roll out their networks.

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