In support of the Swedish government’s decision to open the 694MHz-790MHz (700MHz or ‘second digital dividend’) band for mobile network usage from 1 April 2017, the country’s telecoms regulator PTS has opened up a study to examine proposed mobile development in the band while also considering the need for measures to protect terrestrial TV from interference. The PTS notes that in addition to expanding the geographical coverage of mobile services, the introduction of 700MHz services should result in closing local ‘white spots’ in coverage, whilst also providing greater capacity for mobile broadband networks. It asserts that the mobile infrastructure to be established under 700MHz licence requirements may be open to access by multiple operators.
The PTS adds that previous reports suggested public funds will be available for 700MHz rollouts as a tool to improve coverage in areas where commercial interest is lacking. PTS supports this proposal and agrees with findings that publicly-funded rollout contracts are ‘in many ways’ a more efficient and precise instrument for improving coverage than the requirements stipulated under mobile spectrum licences. At present, however, licensing coverage requirements are the main tool available to the PTS in this regard. To date, coverage requirements under licensing have been stipulated by the PTS based on: percentage of geographic area (450MHz and 900MHz bands), population coverage (2100MHz band) and, in the 800MHz band, a specific list of individual addresses lacking broadband coverage. As it stands, the PTS sees that it is justified to attach coverage requirements to 700MHz licences; the coverage should enable voice and data services ‘up to around 10Mbps’. The authority added: ‘A similar approach as for the 800MHz allocation is then a possibility, i.e. a form of allocation where there is a bid in cash and where the licensee shall develop, at a cost equal to the bid amount. The expansion would, however, in this case primarily focus on geographic areas with poor mobile coverage, unlike the coverage requirement in the 800MHz band that focuses on broadband of at least 1Mbps to households and workstations.’