Light Reading
As new wireless spectrum becomes available in Europe, mobile operators are being given greater technical freedom by regulators

Spectrum Up for Grabs in Europe

Michelle Donegan
News Analysis
Michelle Donegan
3/13/2007
50%
50%

Europe's wireless spectrum scene is set for a significant shakeup as new mobile licenses become available and regulators become more relaxed about which technologies license-holders can use (see table below).

Table 1: Upcoming European Wireless Spectrum Awards

Country Frequency Potential Uses Potential Bidders Date of Auction/Beauty Contest
France 2.1 GHz 3G Iliad and Noos July 2007
Germany 2.6 GHz 3G expansion band T-Mobile, E-Plus, Vodafone, O2 Early 2008
Ireland 1785-1805 MHz broadband wireless access March 2007
Italy 3.5 GHz WiMax FastWeb, Tiscali, Telecom Italia June 2007
Norway 2.6 GHz 3G expansion band, technology neutral Telenor, TeliaSonera's NetCom October 2007
Portugal 3.4 GHz-3.6 GHz WiMax 2007
Sweden 3.6 GHz-3.8 GHz mobile WiMax, technology neutral TeliaSonera, Bredbandsbolaget (B2) October/November 2007
Sweden 2.6 GHz 3G expansion band, technology neutral TeliaSonera, Telenor, Tele2, 3 Spring 2008
United Kingdom 2.6 GHz 3G expansion band, technology neutral Not known End 2007
United Kingdom 479 MHz - 868 MHz currently in consultation Not known Consultation ends in March 2007




In France, regulator ARCEP has launched the tender process for the fourth and last remaining 3G license in France. (See ARCEP Invites 3G Bids.)

The fourth French 3G license will cost €619 million (US$818 million), plus 1 percent of revenues, which is what the three current 3G service providers, Orange SA , SFR , and Bouygues Telecom , paid for their UMTS licenses.

It will be awarded by beauty contest rather than a bidding process, with ARCEP choosing the winner based on the operators' proposals for territory coverage (80 percent of the country), speed of deployment, and the services that will be offered. Interested bidders have until the end of July to submit applications, and ARCEP will make the final decision by March 2008.

Iliad (Euronext: ILD), best known for its triple-play ISP Free , has expressed interest in this license, while cable operator Numericable is also reportedly interested. (See Iliad Eyes Mobile License.)

ARCEP says it needs to allocate the fourth 3G license because it wants to consult on the possibility of allowing mobile operators to use the 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrums awarded for 2G GSM services for 3G services, something they aren't currently permitted to do. Orange and SFR have requested permission to do this, says an ARCEP spokesman.

"We will soon allow 3G licensed operators to go into GSM bands... after the fourth 3G license [is awarded]," says the spokesman. "Before allowing them to do that, we have to know how many operators will need to share these frequencies."

The French regulator may be the first to introduce this new frequency reuse policy in Europe. The European Commission is in favor of allowing operators to use 2G spectrum for 3G services, a move that has been welcomed by GSM Europe, part of the mobile operators' trade body, the GSM Association (GSMA) .

"This would allow faster takeup of 3G services," says Eirini Zafeiratou, director of GSM Europe.

However, the ultimate decision and details will be battled out in each of the member states.

The main benefit for reusing 2G spectrum is cost savings, explains Amit Nagpal, principal consultant at Analysys . Operators can get additional coverage by using lower frequencies, and fewer base stations would be needed. Also, the GSM frequencies provide better indoor coverage.

"This spectrum policy is also a useful tool alongside other measures, such as site or infrastructure sharing, so should not be treated as a panacea for cost reduction, any more than, for example, outsourcing," says Mike Short, vice president of research and development at pan-European operator Telefónica Europe plc (O2) .

Technical neutrality
The other big shift in European spectrum policy is the move away from dictating which technologies and services can be used in allocated frequency bands. The U.K. was first to introduce "technical neutrality," as it is known, to spectrum policy in late 2005.

"We don't specify what the license should be used for," says an Ofcom spokesman. "We feel the market is better placed to make that decision."

This issue is most contested in the 3G expansion band, 2.6 GHz, which is due to be auctioned this year in Norway and next year in Germany and Sweden. The original intent for this spectrum was for 3G services, but some regulators are looking to apply technical neutrality to this spectrum, which means it could potentially be used for WiMax, for example.

That's a move the big 3G equipment vendors, such as Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), oppose.

The Swedish regulator, PTS, intends to open up the 2.6GHz band to other technologies, as well as 3G.

"Ericsson is the player that is very much against using [this band] for other things than [3G]," says Katarina Wretman, director of the spectrum management department at PTS. "It has to accept that we might get operators in an auction who want to use [the spectrum] for something else.

"There aren't many bands available for [3G]. We also want to see it as an expansion band, but we need to let the market decide."

The tension over the 3G expansion band comes down to how much frequency is assigned to time division duplex (TDD), which is used for WiMax, and frequency division duplex (FDD), which is used for 3G. "The battle between WiMax and IMT-2000 is happening in the 2.6GHz band," says Wretman.

In Germany, the regulator has not yet determined the frequency allocation terms for the 2.6GHz band. But when it is auctioned, the existing 3G operators are likely to bid for licenses as a defensive move.

"They'll probably buy the spectrum to keep anyone from coming in and competing with them," says Sylvain Fabre, research director in the communications group at Gartner. "These are the noises we've heard from T-Mobile International AG and E-Plus Mobilfunk GmbH . But they don't physically need it at the moment... [though] more spectrum is always good."

And the Norwegian Post and Telecom Authority delayed its 3G expansion band auction to later this year because it needed more time to decide on the terms and conditions, but the license terms will be based on technical neutrality.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Flash Poll
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Microgenesis on Huawei's Switches

9|19|14   |   3:57   |   (0) comments


Microgenesis is a solutions and system integrator company in the Philippines whose areas of expertise include data centers, networking and security products. In this video, Executive Director Jeffrey Choa talks to us about his customers needs and they benefit from using Huawei switches.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Network Solutions Help the Philippines Jump Ahead

9|17|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


In the past, the Philippines has under-invested in technology. Now, the CEO of Softshell talks about how Huawei products help the Philippines jump ahead as the economy improves.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
VCS Observation for Safer Cities in the Netherlands

9|17|14   |   5:20   |   (0) comments


Holland's VCS Observation has been operating for 22 years. Its main goal is to get cities safer. CEO Wim van Deijzen tells us some of the challenges his company faces and how Huawei is helping to overcome these challenges.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Conversation With Serbia's Ministry of Interior

9|17|14   |   4:38   |   (0) comments


At HCC 2014, the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia talks to us about his projects and corporation with Huawei. Solutions like Safe City and E-Government and services like cloud computing are just some of the areas his department is interested in.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (1) comment


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Mosaik Solutions presents its 2014 maps of the wireless world in the US, including cable WiFi deployments, LTE network expansion and 600MHz auction boundaries.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Photos: Qualcomm Takes Over San Francisco
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/19/2014
Exclusive: Microwave Maven Exalt Is Cooked
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/22/2014
NFV & The Data Center: Top 10 Takeaways
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/18/2014
EMC Mulls Merger With HP or Dell – Reports
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 9/22/2014
Gigabit Nets Boost GDP, Says FTTH Council
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/23/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed