The gate opens before selling 5G frequencies

Published: 17 June 2019

On 17 June,* the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) published the draft documentation on its website containing details of the auction of the frequencies suitable for wireless broadband services scheduled for the autumn of this year for the purpose of supporting the introduction of fifth-generation (5G) mobile technology. The NMHH expects comments on the sales planned in the 700 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2600 MHz and 3600 MHz frequency bands by 8 July. The utilisation of frequencies that have been unused or used for other purposes will enable new prospects to be opened before the development of the Hungarian digital economy by employing future technologies.

Key features of the planned auction procedure

The infocommunications authority sells the usage rights of frequencies at auctions. In order to ensure clean and sustainable market competition, anyone meeting the conditions of participation may bid, that is, make an offer. The winners will receive the usage rights for fifteen years, which may be extended once for an additional five years. In addition to taking into account EU obligations, the NMHH determined the elements of the frequency set of more than 400 MHz on offer based on the expected market interest and relying on industry-wide consultation. Considering that the 700 MHz frequency band is currently used for television broadcasting, mobile services may only be provided in this frequency band after the conversion of the television broadcasting, i.e. from September 2020.

Total lots available in the auction:

  • two 25 MHz lots in the 700 MHz frequency band (to be used in pair because of the access method);
  • two 15 MHz lots in the 2100 MHz frequency band (to be used in pair because of the access method);
  • 15 MHz in the 2600 MHz frequency band;
  • 310 MHz in the 3600 MHz frequency band.

Through the sale of spectrum parts, the NMHH aims to enable operators to have the frequency required for the operation of fifth generation networks by the end of 2019 at the latest, and to increase the capacity of their existing mobile networks using the new frequency bands.

Market players can also ask questions in person about the draft during the July 3rd professional consultation, where the Authority will also provide details of the procedure along with the frequency spectrum characteristics. The auction procedure is expected to start in July, after the processing of the opinions received in response to the draft document, i.e. after finalizing the draft, the outcome of which is expected to be completed by the end of autumn. As the NMHH expects, the use of the frequencies concerned will further improve the quality of mobile services in Hungary, and the introduction of 5G will provide an incentive for the development of the Hungarian digital economy.

Briefly about 5G

The significance of 5G, i.e. the fifth-generation solutions lies in the fact that the development of technology may trigger the introduction of applications that require a very low latency, real-time data exchange even between a large number of devices such as in the case of self-driving cars reading sensors remotely, and may accelerate data transmission and significantly improve network reliability.

Among the bands offered for sale this year, the European Union has designated the 700 MHz and the 3600 MHz bands as the pioneering bands of the latest generation wireless networks and regulated these among the first as bands suitable for the introduction of 5G bands. EU harmonisation in spectrum regulation is essential to ensure that mobile phone use and the introduction of 5G is possible in the same frequency bands in all Member States, and that the use of various electronic devices is simple within the EU. Devices that already use these frequency bands already harmonized at the European level have been put on the market by manufacturers.

* The draft document containing the details of the auction (published on 17 June) had to be fine-tuned due to technical reasons. The re-edited version is available (with issue date of 18 June 2019), through the link in the publication. No substantive amendment had been made in the draft published on the 18th compared to the previous one of 17June 2019. The date of publication of the draft document is 18 June 2019, which is also the starting date for calculating the legal deadlines.