5G auction conditions outline national roaming, coverage areas

Germany’s communications regulator Bundesnetzagentur has published the final draft conditions for the country’s 5G auction. These draft conditions include increased coverage requirements and an expectation that German telcos would cooperate on national roaming.

Bundesnetzagentur’s President Jochen Homann said the proposal had been revised from the original taking into account numerous comments from interested parties.

The final draft conditions require minimum data rates of 100 Mbps available by the end of 2022 in 98% of households in each state, all federal highways, all main roads and along the major railway routes.

Also, each existing carrier must also install 1,000 5G base stations and 500 other base stations in defined areas by the end of 2022.

At the end of 2024, 5G coverage should be extended to seaports, main waterways and all other road and rail routes in the country. The regulator said that the minimum coverage rules will not be applicable to any new entrant.

Bundesnetzagentur’s document also includes expectation that operators would work together on providing coverage in areas not economically viable for each to install their own equipment.

The draft conditions will be discussed by an advisory council at its meeting on November 26. The 5G auction is scheduled to take place in 2019.

The GSMA has recently released a statement to welcome the German government’s decision to release the entire 3.4 to 3.8 GHz band (C-Band). However, the GSMA warned that some of the currently proposed conditions on the allocation of these key frequencies may slow Germany’s 5G deployments.

“The C-Band is the most vital frequency band for 5G. Germany is demonstrating 5G leadership in the timely release of this vital spectrum, but risks undercutting its 5G future with unnecessary obligations,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “Spectrum is a limited resource and it must be used and managed as efficiently as possible to ensure a 5G future that will benefit all.”

In addition to coverage obligations, the GSMA believes there are other conditions proposed for the 5G auction that should be reconsidered by the regulator. The current proposal, which includes potential roaming and wholesale obligations attached to the 3.4 to 3.7 GHz band introduces a critical level of uncertainty for operators investing in 5G networks in Germany, GSMA said.

Also, Deutsche Telekom (DT) CEO Timotheus Hoettges urged the local regulator not to force national roaming on operators as part of its 5G auction conditions

Speaking at an investor conference in Barcelona, Hoettges reportedly said any move to make operators share radio access equipment – rather than just passive equipment such as masts – would be the “end of rural buildout”.

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