State of Play

Regional Status


Germany was the first European country to auction licenses in the 800MHz frequency band. The spectrum was structured in accordance with the CEPT band plan. The 800MHz band was split into 6 lots, each consisting of 2x5MHz of bandwidth for the auction. The German auction finished in May 2010 with three winning bidders. Coverage conditions were designed to promote broadband deployment in rural areas. The coverage obligations were staged so that each phase of the roll-out would move forward only once 90 per cent coverage was achieved in the preceding priority area. A guaranteed minimum download speed of 3Mbps was required. By the end of 2011, Telekom Deutschland, Vodafone Germany and Telefónica Germany (O2) fulfilled their coverage obligations in seven of the 13 required states and by mid-2012 had started deploying LTE in cities.


The French government completed its auction of 800MHz licenses in December 2011, comprising four lots: two 2x10MHz and two 2x5MHz. Three licenses were awarded with Bouygues and Orange, which secured 2x10MHz each, and SFR, which secured two blocks of 2x5MHz. The SFR spectrum has an access obligation for Free, the new entrant operator, once Free has achieved 25 per cent population coverage with its 2.6GHz LTE network.

France auctioned the 2.6GHz spectrum for LTE in September 2011. Four bidders were successful: the three existing operators Bouygues, Orange and SFR, and the new entrant, Free. Orange and Free secured 2x20MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum and Bouygues and SFR secured 2x15MHz.


Sweden's telecommunications regulator, PTS, concluded a radio spectrum auction in March 2011 and announced that Hi3G, Net4Mobility and TeliaSonera had secured blocks of 800MHz spectrum. The bands were auctioned in 2x5MHz lots with a cap of 2x10MHz imposed. One of the licenses is to be used to cover those permanent homes and fixed places of business that lack broadband. The licenses are valid through 2035. Sweden allows trading and network/spectrum sharing.


Italy’s busy market for regional broadcasting saw the Italian government overcome significant obstacles ahead of the decision to allocate 790–862MHz to mobile broadband. The government completed an auction for the spectrum in September 2011. Telecom Italia, Vodafone Italy and Wind each acquired 2x10MHz.

Before making this decision, the Italian government went through a series of intense bilateral discussions with France to give Italy the confidence that its GE-06 allocations would not be disrupted. Subsequent discussions with Italian, Austrian, Slovakian, Slovenian, and Croatian regulators led to an agreement in Vienna on managing potential cross border interference for the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands, with a bilateral agreement between the Czech republic and Italy also expected.


In late December 2010 the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Trade submitted the Draft Royal Decree before Parliament for the auction of several bands including the 800MHz band. The auction was completed in July 2011 with Vodafone, Orange and Telefónica all successful in securing both 800MHz spectrum and 2.6GHz spectrum for LTE deployments.

The Spanish Government has announced that, to help stimulate the economy through the introduction of LTE, they plan to make the frequencies available from January 2014, earlier than initially expected.


In 2010 Denmark decided to auction off the 800 MHz band for the roll-out of mobile broadband. The Danish regulator, NITA, is currently preparing for designing and implementing the auction which seems to most likely happen in 2012. The 800 MHz band frequencies will be made available for new licensees by 1 January 2013.


The Dutch regulator intends to auction 2X30MHz of 800MHz band spectrum in October 2012. The forthcoming auction has deliberately reserved 2x5MHz for new entrants. The Ministry expects that frequencies in the 800MHz band will be available from 2013 at the latest, with licences set to last until 2030. The Ministry will allow spectrum transfers and cooperation within the terms of the licence conditions.


The UK regulator Ofcom concluded a consultation on their views on future mobile competition at the end of February 2011. A second consultation on the coexistence of 4G mobile services and broadcasting services in the 800MHz band was published, with a third consultation outlining the planned reallocation of broadcast services published in April 2012. In July 2012 Ofcom announced its plans for a combined 800MHz and 2.6GHz auction, and is now preparing to auction the spectrum before the end of 2012.

The licences will be for an indefinite duration. One license will carry coverage obligations and spectrum will be made available for a new entrant. Ofcom has also defined a number of spectrum caps that will apply across operators’ spectrum portfolios in relation to the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands.

Europe Outside of the EU

Bilateral agreements regarding ARNS have been completed between many EU members and their neighbours, which removes a significant obstacle in allocating 800MHz spectrum in these markets. In parallel, many markets outside the EU have begun to switch off analogue television and are planning mobile allocations in the 800MHz band. In July 2012, Russia started a tender process for spectrum in the 2.6GHz band and 2x30MHz of spectrum in the 800MHz band. This spectrum conforms to the CEPT band plan.

SADC Region

In the Communications Regulators Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) workshop in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in January 2011, the SADC group of countries confirmed that its current plan was to follow the 2x30MHz plan at 790–862MHz detailed in the CEPT band plan. However, analogue switch off may not occur in some SADC countries until 2013. South Africa’s recent confirmation that it will be using the DVB-2 digital television standard is expected to accelerate progress in that country.

Many markets in the region are planning to allocate DTT spectrum below the mobile bands (below 698MHz) to provide the opportunity to allocate the Digital Dividend to mobile once the analogue switch-off is complete.

In July 2012, the Kenyan government approved a public-private partnership for 4G, and Digital Dividend spectrum will be allocated to facilitate rural coverage. Orange worked with the government to release 25MHz of 800MHz spectrum so the public-private partnership could maintain a solution that conformed to the CEPT band plan.

698–806MHz in Region 1

While the CEPT band plan is being rapidly adopted in Europe, some countries elsewhere in Region 1 are considering which arrangement is best suited to their national needs. In Africa and the Middle East, the prevalence of CDMA 800 and military equipment in the 800MHz band has caused some countries to look at the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) arrangement (see Region 3 below) as the best option for enabling rural broadband.

The WRC12 decision to allow mobile to use the 698–806MHz band in Region 1 opens up the possibility of allocations in this spectrum for markets that have existing mobile operations in the 850MHz band or have issues with fixed links and other government use. The 698–806MHz spectrum decision comes into effect in 2015, by which time the band plans and the configuration and alignment of the band with the 790–862MHz spectrum will have been determined.

United States

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auctioned some of the 700MHz band in March 2008. Restrictions on capacity saw 2x17MHz of spectrum sold. The auctioned spectrum was split into five blocks, with blocks B (704–710MHz and 734–740MHz) and C (746–757MHz and 776–787MHz) of most interest. Verizon and AT&T amassed 84 percent of the total winning bids. For the C block, license winners were required to build a network allowing any device to operate on it. The FCC auctioned off 16 700MHz licences in Auction 93 in July 2012. The spectrum auctioned was the D block of spectrum that failed to sell in the original 2008 700MHz auction.


The Mexican government has accelerated its plans to allocate the Digital Dividend to mobile broadband by 2012, supporting its policy of achieving the ambitious goal of 22 per cent broadband penetration by 2012. The president of Cofetel, the regulator, stated the government’s plans raise US$10 billion with the 700MHz auction and launched a consultation on the band that ended in December 2010. Cofetel is currently clearing the band, and the Mexican government has recently concluded agreements with the US on managing border interference. The GSMA case study in section 6.2 provides more detail on the situation in Mexico. There is a possibility of mobile being deployed in the band in 2015.


After instigating a series of policies in 2010 to create a more competitive mobile environment, the Peruvian government announced plans in January 2011 that could see it become the first Latin American country to allocate Digital Dividend spectrum to mobile. In March 2011, Peru launched a public consultation on the 700MHz band and has allocated the band to mobile on a primary basis.


With the new Minister of Communication and Information Technologies and the creation of the National Agency on Spectrum (ANE), Colombia has set up a roadmap of spectrum allocation that includes the 700MHz band for the medium term (2012–2013). The government has changed the attribution of the band from broadcasting to telecoms services, following ITU recommendations, and has determined that the APT band plan is most appropriate. It is anticipated that the band will be available for use in 2014.


Industry Canada began a consultation in December 2010 that is likely to drive the allocation of the Digital Dividend in Canada to its conclusion. The regulator reached out to all stakeholders to work through the technical and policy framework for releasing 698–806MHz to mobile. The consultation ended on 31 March 2011, and the analogue television switch-off is expected to be complete later in the year, allowing an award to mobile in 698–806MHz. The auction for the 700MHz band spectrum is planned to be in the first half of 2013. The government has announced plans to auction four licences in the band.

Other Markets in the Americas

Chile has announced plans to auction the 700MHz band, following the APT band plan, in 2013 with the spectrum available for use in 2014. Uruguay and Ecuador have changed their primary allocation of the 700MHz band from television to telecoms services. Paraguay has included the 700MHz band into the draft of its national broadband plan. The Brazilian government is expected to publish a report on the use of the 700MHz band by the end of 2012. Ministry officials have suggested a mobile allocation of 698–806MHz is possible, with licences being issued prior to the analogue television switch-off in 2016.

There is strong momentum behind the 700MHz band for mobile use across the region, with administrations realizing the potential economic and social benefits of allocating some of the Digital Dividend to mobile.

Asia Pacific Telecommunity

In September 2010, the APT voted at the APT Wireless Forum (AWF) meeting in Seoul to allocate 2x45MHz of FDD spectrum as its Digital Dividend, using the same spectrum at 698–806MHz as the TDD plan. The size of the Asian market means that this arrangement may become the most widely harmonised Digital Dividend arrangement and will, as a result, realise the greatest economies of scale.


The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy announced in June 2010 that the Digital Dividend allocation to mobile would total 126MHz in the frequency band 694–820MHz. In October 2010, the Australian regulator, ACMA, published a consultation on the configuration and allocation of Digital Dividend spectrum. Following the consultation, the ACMA published the draft legislative instruments for the Digital Dividend in July 2012. The analogue television switch-off is targeted for December 2013, with many regions having already completed the transition.

New Zealand

New Zealand is looking to complete its analogue switch-off by the end of 2012. The 694–806MHz spectrum band is to be designated for new cellular technologies. Currently, New Zealand is finalising a technical frequency plan suitable for mobile broadband and determining a process for awarding the spectrum. New Zealand continues to focus on international harmonisation with the APT band plan. This will ensure that cost-effective services and devices will be available in New Zealand, and that New Zealanders and visitors will be able to use international roaming services. In June 2012, the New Zealand Communications Minister announced plans to license the 700MHz spectrum by the end of 2012.


In January 2011, the ICT Ministry released a white paper on the future use of the UHF band in Indonesia. The paper identified a Digital Dividend above 694MHz, and put forward the plan to deploy digital terrestrial broadcasting in the spectrum below 694MHz while using the spectrum above for new technologies and services such as mobile broadband. In June 2012, the government confirmed plans to allocate the 700MHz band to mobile.


At the end of June 2012, Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs Communications licensed 700MHz spectrum to NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and e-Mobile fro mobile use. The Ministry has allocated frequencies in the 700MHz band (718–748MHz, 773–803MHz) for mobile phone use to ensure the maximum spectrum for mobile telephones in harmony with international frequency allocations. The allocation provides 30MHz of spectrum aligned with the Asian Band. 700MHz spectrum will be available for commercial LTE services using the 700MHz band in 2015.


The Taiwan Ministry of Transportation and Communication announced plans for new 4G licences in the 700MHz, 900MHz and 1800MHz bands. In July 2012, details outlining the proposed licences were released, including three licences for 2x15MHz in the 700MHz band.




Middle East